Is your family looking for an outdoor adventure, maybe a waterfall to explore, but you don’t have the luxury of an entire weekend to get away? A trip to Gadsden’s Noccalula Falls may just be right for you. We enjoyed a leisurely drive, explored Noccalula Falls Park, had lunch at a pizza place called Stevi B’s and were back home by 2:30 PM.
Noccalula Falls Park and Campground is owned by the City of Gadsden. There is a nominal entrance fee to the park that includes: unlimited train rides, petting zoo and habitat house, pioneer village and trail access to the falls. The admission fee of $21 for five of us was reasonable and worth the visit.
Season passes are available if you plan on returning throughout the year to camp or for special events. If you want to avoid paying the admission fee and intend on only seeing the waterfall you can enter near the campground area and find a trail that leads to the falls. This is free of charge, however, with small children I advise including the park amenities by paying the admission fee.
We arrived right as the park opened at 9AM and began our tour with the train ride. The guide was very helpful in telling us some of the history of the park including The Legend of Princess Noccalula. The train ride is only about five minutes through the park. Since the Falls were the most intriguing aspect of the trip for the kids we made our way to the trail quickly after the train ride.
The trail is not handicapped accessible and can be slippery in certain areas as Andy demonstrated seconds after exclaiming that he is a “professional adventurer”. There are very steep stairs leading down to the trail, but our crew ages 8-11 were able to safely navigate. The trail led us behind the waterfall and we continued on the small trail leading down to the pool area. (Note: Swimming and Wading are forbidden due to danger in the current).
If you end your Waterfall Adventure there you can complete that portion in about 30 minutes. We were a bit more daring and explored further trails leading into the woods along Black Creek.
- Unlimited Train Rides, although the ride is short, it is entertaining for kids of all ages.
- The Fat Man Squeeze (or at least the Gadsden version)
- Petting Zoo and Habitat House (including a Lioness, of course not for petting!)
- Pioneer Village (log cabins built in Tennessee and Alabama depicting life of the past)
- A children’s playground
- We did not visit the campground area. Camp Sites as well as two cabins are available for overnight rentals
- There is also a miniature golf course adjacent for an additional fee of $5 per adult/$4 child
- There are restroom facilities, picnic areas and a gift shop as well as soda vending machines
Things to bring
Comfortable hiking shoes
Sunscreen and or Bug Spray depending on the season
Admission: Adults are $6, children ages 4-12 are $3, senior adults (55+) are $4
When to Go: The park is open March 1 – October 31. It’s best to visit after we have had a good amount of rain to see the waterfall at its best!
During Christmas the park is decorated with lights and there is a Santa letter-writing clinic in the post office and a meet & greet with Santa. This event occurs annually beginning after Thanksgiving. Season passes are not valid during that time, admission is $5 per person and the event is in the evening hours beginning at 5:30PM.
Born in Germany, but raised in Huntsville, Melika Nixon brings a unique perspective to travel and culture. As a nurse practitioner and single mother to seven-year-old twin boys, including one with serious medical issues, she brings an even more keen perspective to traveling with children. She frequently writes about creative, cost-effective ways to introduce children to the world through the gift of travel.