Traveling since March of 2020 has been a bit of a challenge. At first, travel was postponed, then delayed, then canceled because of the Covid 19 virus. With the coming of Fall, many people have begun to safely venture back out on the road. The outdoors has been a big draw for many. Both the State and National Parks have been busy with visitors as people clamor to just get away from their usual surroundings.
Northeast Alabama served up plenty of Alabama’s natural wonders to explore on my latest journey. Thanks to both Sweet Home Alabama and Visit North Alabama, I discovered and enjoyed the intrinsic beauty of Outdoor Alabama.
Outdoor Northeast Alabama
4 Covered Bridges
Alabama is graced with many historic covered bridges that remain throughout the state. On this trip, I was fortunate to discover four.
Ktmulga Covered Bridge is located in Childersburg and was built in 1860 and is located beside a grist mill. There is a small fee to see the mill and the bridge.
Waldo Covered bridge is not assessable and has been condemned, but can be viewed through a canopy of trees from an unpaved road.
The Coldwater Covered Bridge was relocated to Oxford Park Lake in Oxford, Alabama, from Coldwater Creek in Calhoun County, Alabama. It was constructed in 1850 and is 63 feet in length.
The Clarkson Covered Bridge is located just outside Cullman. Constructed in 1904, the 270-foot span is well-tended and a busy spot for visitors. The bridge was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1974.
3 Natural Wonders of Northeast Alabama-Waterfalls
These natural wonders waterfalls of Alabama are mesmerizing to watch as the water thunders over the rock formations.
Little River Falls-Located at the beginning of the eleven-mile scenic drive through Little River Canyon, it is the perfect beginning for the drive through the canyon. The drive is curvy and when you see Mushroom Rock and want a picture of it, stop, because there is no opportunity to turn around if you continue. There are many scenic overlooks of the canyon, which make for some beautiful photographs.
DeSoto Falls is a scenic drive through the forest and a very curvy road. For the best view of DeSoto Falls, head down to the lower viewing area just below the parking area. The stairs are steep, so mind your footing.
Noccalula Falls is located in Gadsden. The story of Princess Noccalula, the daughter of an Indian chief, is sad. However, the view of the 90-foot falls in magnificent.
Along with beautiful waterfalls, I found other locations that were inspiring.
Known locally as “Little Rock Village,” this is a haven for rock climbers and campers. The view from the overlook is spectacular. There are some fourteen miles of trails to explore.
You will feel on top of the world when you encounter the breathtaking view atop Mt. Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama. For a $6.00 fee, you can drive to the top of the mountain then take a short walk along a boardwalk to the scenic overlook. The view and walk through nature are well worth the fee.
You will have a million-dollar view from the Lodge on Lake Guntersville. Perfectly positioned for 180-degree views of the lake, the Lodge’s bluff rooms have balconies where you can enjoy the view anytime during your stay. Here you will see extraordinary sunsets and sunrises!
Accommodations at the Park also include cabins and chalets depending on the size of your group. You will not want for things to do while visiting the park. From hiking, kayaking, swimming, golfing to horseback riding, Lake Guntersville State Park is the place to enjoy thoroughly outdoor Alabama.
You don’t have to go far for dining options at the Lodge. The Pinecrest Dining room offers a full range of tasty meals.
The Marble Capital of Alabama, Sylacauga, Alabama
Don’t travel in Northeast Alabama without making a stop to see that latest work of Sculptor Craigger Browne. Browne is the sculptor in residence in Sylacauga, Alabama, which is the Marble Capital of Alabama. Sylacauga marble is truly a natural wonder of Alabama.
Browne’s latest commission is a relief of World War 1 soldier, Mortimer Jordan. Jordan served in World War 1 as a soldier, although he was a physician. The relief will be installed at the Mortimer Jordan High School, which is named for Jordan in Kimberly, Alabama.
Browne was kind enough to give me a tour of the B.B. Comer Library Sculpture Collection. It is astounding! Browne has several pieces on display there. If you are in Sylacauga, Alabama, the sculptures at the Comer Library are a must-see.
Food and Drink
Pizza and Pint is one of several restaurants found on North Broadway, the main thoroughfare of Sylacauga. The pizza is delicious, and the renovated interior has a relaxed craft beer vibe. Table and chairs are crafted of metal and pipe fittings. Metal is a common theme throughout the restaurant. The restrooms are unique in design. Head in a grab a pint and a slice.
Grapes are not known to grow well in Alabama; the climate is either too hot or too wet. But one man, Jim Lee, decided to take a chance on growing grapes outside of Gadsden. Jim’s passion for the grape turned into a family business. I can testify that Maraella has some delicious wine selections available.
Learn more about North Alabama’s vineyards and explore the North Alabama wine trail. Get your passport stamped!
I cannot tell you when I have indulged in a more delicious meal in more beautiful surroundings. From the freshly made appetizers to the signature dish of Shrimp and Grits, you will not be disappointed at The Docks. The place is reminiscent of a dockside dive, but looks are deceiving.
Mark Hall, a former sous-chef, opened the Docks eighteen years ago. He has found the right recipe. The service is first class, and the view, especially at sunset, spectacular. From house-made sauces and dressings to homemade desserts, you will leave delighted. Do not miss this unique dining experience along Lake Guntersville.
Natural Wonders of a different kind in Northeast Alabama
Glass blowing at Orbix Hot Glass, Fort Payne, Alabama
Cal and Christy Breed Kristi started Orbix Hot Glass in 2002, deep in the woods of Little River Canyon. Today, the hot shop, where the glass pieces are created, and gallery where the artisans’ works are displayed are busy with visitors.
In the Fall, throngs of guests clamor to the glass blowing classes that they host. Make your reservation! Watch this video to learn more about Orbix’s story.
Located in Cullman, Alabama, at the St. Bernard Abbey the Grotto features the work of Brother Joseph Zoetti, a Benedictine monk. He devoted fifty years of his life to creating the stone and concrete models of religious sites from around the world.
Zoetti began work on the miniature structures in 1932 using materials from everyday items that he found around the Abbey. While visiting the site, which sits in an old rock quarry, I thought it should surely qualify as a natural wonder of Alabama.
Civil Rights History in North Alabama
In 1931, America was mired in the Great Depression. It was commonplace for people to ride freight trains to other towns to find work. On March 25, 1931, a fight broke out on a train near Scottsboro, Alabama. Soon nine African American teenagers found themselves falsely accused of rape by two white women who were also on the train.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys. Sheila Washington, Director of the Museum, opened the museum seventeen years ago. Sheila’s perseverance in telling these young men’s stories ensures that their stories will not be forgotten.
After years of fundraising, the museum is set to begin renovations soon that will bring in new displays, the depiction of the courtroom in the 1930s, and new technology to the museum. See my video on the traveling exhibit the Scottsboro Boys trial at the Morgan County Archives.
Three days is not much time to explore the back roads of Northeast Alabama natural wonders. It only whets the appetite to keep exploring.
Outdoor Alabama has much to offer travelers. A few days exploring the back roads of Alabama can provide you with a refreshing view of nature and be restorative to your psyche. You can find many other Alabama road trip adventures here at Roadrunner Journeys.