There is no shortage of beautiful waterfalls in Alabama to choose from thanks to the thousands of miles of rivers and streams flowing throughout the state’s incredible natural landscape.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape from the city or you’re on a mission to discover some of the South’s most spectacular natural wonders, visiting one of the many waterfalls is one of the most fun things to do in Alabama and is a must when visiting the state.
From crystal clear swimming holes to take a dip in on a hot summer day to epic hiking adventures with rewarding views, there are plenty of waterfalls in Alabama for every adventure level.
There are so many of them that it’s almost impossible to see them all. If you’re overwhelmed with deciding which ones to visit first, keep reading! We’ve narrowed it down to the prettiest Alabama waterfalls that you should put at the top of your list!
12 Prettiest Waterfalls in Alabama
Located in Desoto State Park in the northeastern part of the state, Desoto Falls is one of the most visited waterfalls in Alabama and also one of the tallest coming in at over 100 feet.
Formed by the West Fork of the Little River that winds its way around Lookout Mountain, these impressive falls plunge into a beautiful naturally-formed rock canyon.
No hiking is required to take in this incredible view. Visitors can easily reach the railed overlook via a paved pathway that leads from the parking lot and down approximately 50 steps. Be sure to stop to take in the view of the falls cascading down A.A. Miller Dam just upstream from Desoto Falls on the way down.
There is a picnic area nearby as well as hiking trails to make the most of your visit. The best time to see Desoto Falls is during the winter and early spring when more rainfall and higher water levels result in a more powerful water flow.
Little River Falls
Just a 10 mile drive south of Desoto State Park, you can find the beautiful and easily accessible Little River Falls immersed in the the natural beauty of Little River Canyon Natural Preserve.
You can take in the views of the 45 foot falls either by descending a short but steep paved pathway leading from the parking lot to down to an overlook or by driving to a higher viewpoint with easier access off Canyon Rim Drive.
Swimming is allowed, however it’s important to be cautious of slippery rocks and swift waters that easily carry swimmers over the edge. A short 3/4 mile hike downstream from the main parking area will take you to Martha’s Falls which is a popular “hippie hole” that’s better suited for swimming.
If you happen to be visiting in the winter or early spring, be sure to catch a glimpse of the seasonal Grace’s High Falls, which is the tallest of all the waterfalls in Alabama and located very close to Little River Falls.
Immersed in lush natural beauty and rooted in legends, Noccalula falls, a spectacular waterfall with a 90-foot drop, is one of the most visited and well-known waterfalls in Alabama.
A bronze statue at the top of the falls pays tribute to its namesake, a Cherokee princess named Noccalula who legend says plunged to her death from the top of the waterfall on her wedding day after being forced by her father to betray the man she loved to marry another.
Today, the waterfall is part of Noccalula park which is filled to the brim with things do such as hiking trails that wind their way through the surrounding wilderness, a replica pioneer village, botanical gardens, a mini-golf course, a petting zoo, and even a train that navigates around the park.
Visitors can easily spend an entire day at Noccalula Park learning about pioneer history and soaking up the idyllic views of the waterfall and woodland surroundings. It is well worth the small admission fee to experience one of Alabama’s best natural attractions.
The impressive High Falls is one of the most unique Alabama waterfalls due to the natural bridge at its base, carved by hundreds of years of flowing water. It is located in High Falls Park just east of Guntersville.
This powerful waterfall plunges 35 feet into Town Creek and can span up to 300 feet across during times of high water levels. A pedestrian bridge that spans the gorge and provides scenic views of both the upstream and downstream sides is accessible via a short hike from the parking lot.
Depending on the water level, it is possible to wade in the water above the falls and sometimes even walk out to the natural bridge. Adventurous hikers have the option of a steep climb down to the bottom of the falls for a better view.
Salt Creek Falls
Located inside Talladega National Forest, Salt Creek Falls is considered to be one of the best cascade waterfalls in Alabama. Due to the steep rock amphitheater carved out by the water, it also has a reputation for being extremely dangerous.
It’s a short hike from the parking lot to the top of the waterfall. However, the swimming hole below is only accessible by descending the slippery moss-covered rocks to the bottom. The only way out is by climbing the same way back up to the top.
This hike is not advised for those who are afraid of heights or out of shape. Accidents are not uncommon here and even deaths have occurred so use extreme caution and pay close attention to your footing.
The difficulty of this hike is well worth the reward of an afternoon swimming beneath a beautiful waterfall secluded deep in the forest. While in the area, be sure to explore more of the Talladega National Forest.
Devil’s Den Falls
Just a 15-minute drive from Salt Creek Falls and also located in Talladega National Forest is Devil’s Den Falls. Although it is smaller than many other Alabama waterfalls with only a 10-foot drop, the substantial pool it flows into below is a very popular swimming hole.
Devil’s Den is beautiful year-round with consistently steady water flow but is particularly spectacular during the wet seasons and after heavy rainfall. Expect to see large crowds here on the weekends especially during the late spring and summer.
To reach the falls, start at Lake Chinnabee in Cheaha State Park and follow the Chinnabee Silent Trail for half a mile. The trail is fairly easy and heavily trafficked but does have rocky portions and steep inclines. If you feel up to a longer hike, you can continue on the same trail to Cheaha Falls.
Cheaha Falls is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in Alabama tucked deep inside Talladega National Forest and situated in Cheaha State Park. Visitors flock to the popular Devil’s Den nearby, but fewer hikers make the extra journey to Cheaha.
This impressive 3 tiered cascade with a swimming hole at the base is perfect for a refreshing dip secluded in the forest. This is a lovely spot for camping so feel free to bring your tent along. There is also a trail shelter that can be used on a first come first serve basis.
The most scenic trail to get to Cheaha Falls starts at Lake Chinnabee and passes Devil’s Den along the way and is 6 miles round trip. The shortest trail starts at the Chinnabee Silent Trailhead just off the Talladega Scenic Byway and is 1.5 miles round trip.
Kinlock Falls is located inside the Sipsey Wilderness, aptly known as the “land of 1000 waterfalls”. This area, which is part of the Bankhead National Forest, is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in north Alabama.
This picturesque waterfall spans 20 feet across Hubbard Creek and gradually cascades down into a swimming hole. Kinlock Falls is a popular place to swim, picnic, and even slide down the rock face on inflatable intertubes.
The falls are easily accessible year-round by a short trail right off the main road. Make the most out of your visit by exploring the many other Alabama waterfalls nearby including Eagle Creek Falls, Fall Creek Falls, and Caney Creek Falls.
Caney Creek Falls
Tucked away inside the Bankhead National Forest, Caney Creek Falls remains one of Alabama’s best-kept secrets. Although it is lesser-known and more difficult to get to than many of the waterfalls on this list, it is well worth the effort and is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in north Alabama.
The falls are a 1.7 mile hike through the forest from the trailhead. At the end of the trail, the hike culminates in a stunning secluded woodland paradise with a 20 foot curtain of water cascading over moss-covered boulders.
One of the most unique features of this waterfall, besides its secluded location, is the fact that you can actually walk behind it which offers a unique viewpoint and photo opportunity. Take a dip in the refreshing water before starting the steep uphill hike back to the trailhead.
Although the trail and waterfall are both part of the Bankhead National Forest, the parking area is located on private property. Be sure to do your research before planning your trip here to avoid any issues.
Looking for an easy escape from Birmingham? This waterfall is only 20 minutes outside the city and is located in nearby Oak Mountain State Park. Named after the flowering plant that grows around it, the picturesque 65-foot Peavine Falls is worth the moderate hike required to reach it.
There are a few different trail options to choose from depending on the type of adventure you’re looking for. The shortest trail is a little over a mile loop. No matter which trail you choose, the paths are rocky and the descent to the bottom of the falls is steep and slippery. The refreshing pool at the bottom of the falls is the perfect place to cool off after hiking.
Like most waterfalls in Alabama, the best time to visit Peavine Falls is during the rainy months or after heavy rainfall. During the summer, the water flow can slow to a small trickle. However, it is still a lovely spot to hike to any time of year.
Mardis Mill Falls
Also a short trip from Birmingham at only 45 minutes away, Mardis Mill Falls makes for a perfect getaway from the city. Because it is located on Graves Creek, it is also sometimes known as Graves Falls.
Although it is on the small side with only a roughly 16-foot drop, it spans 35 feet and has a lovely pool at the bottom that has become a popular swimming hole for locals. You can expect to encounter large crowds here during the summer months, especially on weekends.
Mardis Mill Falls is one of the most easily accessible waterfalls in Alabama with a short and easy trail to the bottom that is right off the main road. There is plenty of room to lounge in the shade next to the falls and enjoy a picnic after an afternoon of swimming and enjoying the surrounding natural beauty.
Rainbow Falls, one of the most enchanting waterfalls in Alabama, is nestled inside the unspoiled natural paradise known as Dismal’s Canyon in the northwest corner of Alabama. This beautiful waterfall cascades down the sandstone canyon walls and flows into Dismal Branch, a winding stream that runs along the canyon floor.
Dismal’s Canyon is a National Natural Landmark due to its geological significance and biodiversity. A natural phenomenon occurs every night when the canyon floor is lit up due to tiny bioluminescent creatures called Dismalites.
Witches Cavern, a moss-covered labyrinth below Rainbow Falls is home to the largest colony of these creatures. Guided night hikes are available to visitors who want to experience the magic of this phenomenon and learn more about the ecology of the area.
Rainbow Falls can be reached by descending down a staircase to reach the 1.5-mile hiking trail along the canyon floor that winds its way through an enchanting world of caverns, grottos, natural bridges, narrow slot canyons, a lush diversity of plant life, and another waterfall known as Secret Falls.
Dismal’s Canyon is located on private property and there is a fee to enter. It is closed during the winter months so be sure to check the official website and plan your trip accordingly. Make the most of your trip by combining Rainbow Falls with a visit to other waterfalls in North Alabama such as Kinlock Falls and Caney Creek Falls.
With so many beautiful waterfalls in Alabama, the hardest part is choosing which one to visit first! We hope this list inspires you to explore all of the incredible natural wonders the state has to offer. If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures, be sure to visit one of Alabama’s many national parks.