By Mike Steely

Ever visit a beautiful waterfall located inside a city?

Noccalula Falls Park is in Gadsden, Alabama, just a few minutes off Interstate 59 and about an hour and a half south of Chattanooga. The city park’s 250 acres features a 90-foot waterfall, an aboriginal fort, an abandoned dam, a pioneer homestead, carvings dating back to the Civil War and much more.

The falls are about three hours from Knoxville via I-75 to Chattanooga, west on I-24 to I-59. The park is in north  Gadsden on Highway 211. The campground has been rated the number one campground in the state.

The botanical gardens there has over 25,000 azaleas. A nine-foot-tall statue of a young Cherokee woman, Noccalula, stands atop the falls. She was said to have plunged to her death there after being ordered by her father to wed someone she did not love.

The park also features a petting zoo, a mini-golf course and the Gilliland Reese Covered Bridge, built about 1899. It also has a replica of a 1863 train ride. A tavern and dance hall was inside the cave behind the falls but attempts to increase that area with dynamite caused the space to fall in.

A trail winds through the park along the Black Creek Gorge and past caves, the Indian fort, the abandoned dam and a pioneer homestead.

Because it is close to I-59, the falls and park would be a great stop for a family picnic and a walk to break up a road trip. Nearby places of interest include an historic cemetery and church, the Lookout Mountain Parkway and Coosa Landing Recreation Park. On your way to and from you may want to stop in the small Georgia town of Rising Fawn. Established by the Chickamauga Cherokee and named for a chief’s wife, the little place was also the home of Chief Bob Benge, the noted warrior who raided East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia before Indian removal.

A day away from your home with the family breaks up the cabin-fever of the pandemic and can be fun and educational. You can find Noccalula Falls Park and Gadsden, Al., on the internet.