Caney Creek Falls and Upper Caney Creek Falls in particular are thought by many to be the most beautiful waterfall trip in Alabama. It's a bit of a hike in, and the hike out of the ampitheater can be hard on the way out, but it's doable for larger kids and dogs. Just use some caution on the descent into the small canyon to see the falls. Be sure to read below about parking, cars have been towed!
Caney Creek Falls - Trip Details
We hadn't been in Alabama for long before someone mentioned a trip to Caney Creek Falls for some fun outdoors and great pictures. After taking the trip, I'd have to agree that it's one of the better waterfall hikes in the state.
I have to extend a big thanks to Lane Leopard for sending over much better pictures than what I took!
Ready for a weekend away? Find a cabin to rent near Caney Creek
The OLD parking for the hike into Caney Creek Falls is on County Road 2 and shown in the picture below. There is a new owner of this spot that WILL have your car towed. You want to continue past this point and use the small gravl road on the right as the road turns.
Go to the end of this road where there is a home with signs straight back showing you where to park. It looks like you're parking at their home because you are! The man that lives here has been kind enough to keep this resource available to the public and will keep an eye on your car while it's parked here. They've also marked a new trail with orange flagging tape from this road to join with the old trail to head down to Caney Creek. The new owners are accepting donations in their mailbox, so PLEASE take some cash and consider supporting their decision to keep this beautiful part of Alabama open for visitors from all over the world.
Since the falls themselves are in Bankhead National Forest land, overnight camping is permitted as well.
The approach to the falls is a steep one, so keep a close eye on dogs and children.
If you continue downstream for about 20 minutes, you'll get to the lower falls, but you'll have to cross the creek to follow the trail to that point.
Hiking to Caney Creek Falls
The falls are a little under a mile from the parking area. On top of that, the walk up out of the small canyon and much of the way back to the car will be slightly uphill. So, prepare for a workout on the way back.
There is some poison ivy along the trail, so just be cautious with dogs and small kids if anyone has a sensitivity to it. The trail is wide except for a couple of short stretches, so it shouldn't be a problem going to the upper falls. The trail to the lower falls is less travelled but shaded by the hemlocks, so poison ivy is less of a problem.
Most of the hike follows a wide trail cut through upland forest which gradually descends to the creek and the falls themselves. In summer, you can enjoy hydrangeas blooming along the trail under the hardwood canopy. Our kids and I enjoyed seeing the Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) with its huge leaves (up to 36" long) and flowers up to a foot across. They are fairly common in eastern Mississippi and western Alabama, but it was our first encounter with the species. They bloom in late spring and early summer.
Once you begin to descend to the creek, you should use caution with you kids and dogs. While the trail is not treacherous, a fall down to the stream from the top of the canyon would be pretty serious. It's hard to judge in pictures, but here's a shot facing back up the trail to give you an idea of the approach:
The falls drop about 20 feet onto a rock ledge and run off into a shallow pool. At times of higher runoff, there is a second seasonal waterfall to the right.
Access behind the falls is easy, making for a fun spot to enjoy with the kids behind the falls.
The small canyon below the falls offers a great chance for a geology lesson with kids and beautiful moss-covered rocks along the creek bed, but be prepared to get your shoes a little wet crossing the creek if you don't have waterproof hiking boots.
If you have time and energy, the lower falls are also great to visit. Just be warned, the trail is marked well, but you will be walking along the creek and the canyon walls will force crossings at multiple points to avoid steep climbs. Take a look at the map, and you can see where you can trade some distance for a little extra effort.
The hike back to the car is a bit of a gasser, especially when alternating carrying 3 and 5 year olds! So, you'll appreciate a few minutes in the car when you get back out. But, all in all, this is a fun half-day trip and a gorgeous overnight camping opportunity.
More Waterfalls around Bankhead National Forest
As you might imagine, Caney Creek Falls is not your only option in the vast Bankhead National Forest and the Sipsey Wilderness area. Some other falls to visit are:
- Kinlock Falls - Enjoy this nice cascade with a deep pool at its base with an intertube, if you dare!
- Fall's Creek Falls
- Eagle Creek Falls
- Deer Skull Falls
- Little Ugly Creek Falls
We have also listed 10 of the best waterfalls that you can visit for a day trip here.
Caney Creek Falls Map, Directions, and Resources
GPS Coordinates34.245816, -87.433239