Legend of Noccalula
A statue of Noccalula honors the
young Cherokee woman who
leaped from the waterfall rim long
ago. Her ghost is said to haunt
The beautiful 90-foot waterfall is
the centerpiece of a popular park
and recreation area in Gadsden,
Noccalula Falls Park - Gadsden, Alabama
Noccalula Falls Park - Gadsden, Alabama
This spectacular waterfall in Gadsden, Alabama, is
the focus of a fascinating Cherokee legend.
The Legend of Noccalula
Noccalula Falls is a beautiful 90-foot
waterfall at the western end of Lookout
Mountain in Gadsden, Alabama.
Surrounded by a popular park and recreation
area, the waterfall is one of the most visited
natural attractions in Alabama. The falls can
be visited year-round but the adjacent park is
closed during parts of the winter.
The statue of the Cherokee girl Noccalula at
the top of the falls brings to life one of
Alabama's most beloved legends. The young
The unusual name of the waterfall is part of a
popular Alabama legend that has been
repeated for generations. As the story goes,
Noccalula was the daughter of a Cherokee
chief who lived with his people near the
The young woman had fallen in love with a
warrior from her own tribe. He was a brave
man, but did not possess the worldly goods
of many of his rivals.
Noccalula's father, contrary to his daughter's
wishes, viewed the man as a poor match for
the girl and instead arranged for her to marry
the wealthy chief of a powerful rival tribe. He
also expelled her true love from the village.
Noccalula was heartbroken but found herself
caught up in a rush of events that she could
not stop. A date was set for the wedding and
people from throughout the region gathered
for a feast.
Noccalula was dressed in her wedding finery
by female relatives, but simply could not
marry a man other than her true love. Left
alone for a quiet moment, she slipped away
from the village and walked to the edge of the
roaring waterfall. As horrified onlookers
watched, she leaped from the top and ended
her life in the swirling water, rocks and mist
The suicide of his daughter awakened the
girl's father to the harshness of his actions.
He decreed that the waterfall would always
be known for his daughter. The early settlers
that assumed ownership of the Cherokee
lands when the tribe was forced west on the
Trail of Tears continued the tradition.
Noccalula Falls remains a flowing memorial
to the heartbroken young Cherokee girl to
this day. In fact, some say that she can still
be seen in the rainbows and mists at the
bottom of the waterfall.
An old legend claims that the ghost of
Noccalula still mourns for her true love. Her
ghostly figure appears in the mists and fog at
the bottom of the falls on moonlit nights.
It is impossible to say whether the legend of
Noccalula is true. Historians have puzzled
over the story for many years and written
documentation is sparse. The tale is deeply
embedded in Alabama legend, however, and
serves as a potent reminder of the Cherokee
people who once inhabited Lookout
Hiking trails lead down into the ravine at the
bottom of Noccalula Falls offering visitors a
chance to walk behind the waterfall and
experience the power and beauty of the
pounding water. Caves open into the ravine
and in places the historic carvings left behind
by soldiers of the Civil War can still be seen.
A pioneer village has been assembled near
the overlooks and footbridge at the top of the
falls. It features an original 19th century
covered bridge as well as a blacksmith shop,
log cabin, historic school building and more.
The park also offers train rides, gift shops
and unique rock formations.
The actual waterfall can be visited year-round
for free. The pioneer village and park area is
open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., March 1-June 1
and August 11-October 11; 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 2-August 10; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. October 13-
October 30. The village and park are closed
October 31-November 25 and December 23-
A special Christmas at the Falls event takes
place at Noccalula Falls from November 29-
December 23 when the park is open 5 p.m.-
Admission to the pioneer village and park
area is $6 for adults, $4 for Seniors (55+)
and $3 for Children 4-12. Children under 3
are admitted for free.
A wedding chapel is available for those
wishing to get married near the falls. It seats
up to 75 guests comfortable. For more
information on holding your wedding at
Noccalula Falls, please call (256) 543-7412.
The park also offers a secure campground
featuring cabins, both full hook-up and
electric and water only hook-up sites for RVs
and sites for tent camping.
The parking area for the waterfall is at 1600
Noccalula Road, Gadsden, Alabama. The
address for the Pioneer Village and Park
entrance is 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden,
To reach Noccalula Falls from Interstate 59,
follow Exit 188 to Noccalula Road (Highway
211). Turn right and travel over the mountain
to the waterfall, which will be on your right. A
footbridge leads from the parking area to a
point where the waterfall can be viewed.
Please click here for more information
including campground and cabin rates.
A Ghost in the Mist?
Sunlight creates a rainbow of
colors at the bottom of Noccalula
Falls. Some claim that the spirit of
Noccalula can be seen in the mist.
The stunning falls flow year-round
and topple off Lookout Mountain
into a spectacular ravine carved
over thousands of years by flowing
Great Places in Alabama
|Copyright 2011 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: June 29, 2014
Incredible video of Noccalula Falls!