noccalula falls park on lookout mountain parkway

Day 88 – Alabama’s Lookout Mountain Parkway

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Day 88 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Noccalula Falls Park

After yesterday’s long drive, I began the morning at Noccalula Falls Park in northeast Alabama.  Bobby, a park worker, was the only one at the 250 acre facility when I arrived.  A petting zoo and miniature golf course stood to the left of the entrance while a pioneer village, lit with Christmas lights, lured me to the right.  The winter attraction was clearly the replica 1863 C. P. Huntington train ride through the festive village, not the waterfall tumbling into Black Creek Gorge.  Legend has it that Noccalula Falls, once called Black Creek Falls, is named after the Cherokee princess who chose to leap to her death rather than marry a man she didn’t love. 

Little River Canyon

After visiting the falls, I traveled northeast to Little River Canyon.  The drive winds along the Canyon’s edge while the Little River twists along the canyon floor some 700 feet below.  The canyon is one of the deepest east of the Mississippi.  Lookouts provide dramatic views of sandstone cliffs towering above tantalizing, emerald green waters carving through the canyon floor.  After stopping a few times to admire the tremendous landscape, we pushed forward to DeSoto State Park.

little river canyon on lookout mountain parkway

DeSoto State Park

At DeSoto State Park, the water of DeSoto Falls plunges 120 feet into the river below.  The falls, the highest in the area, was named for the Spaniard, Hernando DeSoto, who unsuccessfully searched nearby for gold. The park, close to the border of Alabama and Georgia, also features a lovely reservoir situated above the falls.

desoto state park on lookout mountain parkway

Lookout Mountain Parkway

The scenic drive along Lookout Mountain Parkway continues northeast into the Northwest corner of Georgia.  While I had attempted to find a cache along Lookout Mountain Parkway, each time I stopped the cache was over a mile away, or I didn’t have cell service.  Knowing that an entire series of caches were hidden along the parkway and aptly name LMPN or LMPS (Lookout Mountain Parkway North or South, respectively) with an associated number (1-20), I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t find one!

City of Mentone

I should have had twenty by now!  I finally stopped off at a park in the City of Mentone to look for a bison tube, but after ten minutes of waiting out a muggle, I moved on.  In order to get my cache in each state, I had to detour off the parkway and go west, before completing the parkway drive into Georgia.

Finally, I came upon a cache named “Guardian Angel”.  The cache owner placed an ammo can nearby the church at which they attend service in memory of Brittany (a 15 month old) that passed away 14 years ago.  Brittany is the cache owner’s son’s heart donor, thus the guardian angel theme.  A guardian angel watches over the cache.  It was so touching.  I’ve never found a cache like this one, and now I’m glad I didn’t find any on Lookout Mountain Parkway, or I would have never found this one, my first in Alabama.  Just another reason why I like geocaching.

geocache in alabama

Cloudland Canyon State Park

We made one final stop on Lookout Mountain Parkway before turning to the northwest for a three and a half hour drive through Tennessee to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the beginning of our next scenic drive.  It was at Cloudland Canyon State Park.  We took a 1.2 mile hike, mostly up and down metal grate stairs, which the dogs despised.  Fellow hikers, winded from the climb up, prepared me for the worst as the dogs and I stepped down one stair at a time.  We walked to two falls, both of which I loved, as the cold air had caused the splashing water near the base of the falls to turn to ice.

Being a fair weather fan from Texas, I don’t have many ice and snow pictures, so I cherished the moment, all be it quick.  As after witnessing all the tired trail walkers, I wanted to allow enough time to return before sunset.  Before climbing each flight of stairs, the dogs stopped to survey the situation. 

From my perspective, it wasn’t that bad.  I don’t know if the slow pace of Scout and Petey made it easier for me or if it was the fact that I didn’t continue as far down the trail as the other group had.  Regardless, either the metal grates bothered my mutts’ paws, or the see-through steps frightened them. We took the slowest paced walk we’ve taken in our three months of travel!  We finally made it back to VANilla and spent the rest of the evening getting to Hopkinsville. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

map of road trip along scenic byways across the USA

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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

photographic note card, colorful canoes in vermont
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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

7 thoughts on “Day 88 – Alabama’s Lookout Mountain Parkway

  1. Oh I’d LOVE to visit there! One of these days, I think. (I run a horse farm in Alabama, so it’s not too far away.) It’s so, so gorgeous there. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

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