5 Best Waterfall Hiking Trails in Talladega National Forest

The Talladega National Forest is a true gem of Alabama. Stretching 70 miles of hardwood forests from the town of Sylacauga to the Georgia state line, the forest offers incredible outdoor recreation at the southern end of Appalachia.

The forest is veined with numerous hiking trails that lead to breathtaking panoramic views from rocky outcrops, glistening lakes, streams and waterfalls.

There are many hidden waterfalls in the Talladega National Forest. Here are the top five hiking trails that will take you to some of them.

Little Hillabee Falls (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

1. Pinhoti Trail to Little Hillabee Falls

We begin our adventure on Alabama’s famous long trail, the Pinhoti Trail, for a trip to Little Hillabee Falls.

This 335+ mile long section of the trail that continues into Georgia begins at Morgan Lake in Oxford, Alabama on County Highway 24. The lake is beautiful in its own right with the forest and hills reflecting in its waters. quiet. A small waterfall is also located here.

Hike on the Bleus-Blazés Pinhoti Trail is an easy to moderate 6 mile round trip on a traditional dirt and rock trail. It’s a nice walk in the woods with lots of solitude. Many times you will have the trail practically to yourself.

The hike ends with a visit to the glistening 50-foot-tall Little Hillabee Falls, where you’ll then turn around and return to the trailhead.

A wonderful fall view of Devils Den.
devil’s lair (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

2. Chinnabee Silent Trail to Cheaha Falls and Devils Den

The natural beauty of the Southern Appalachian Mountains is summed up in this one trail – the Silent Chinnabee Trail. This 7 mile round trip trail is a moderately challenging hike through beautiful hardwood forest that ablazes with color in the fall and offers cool shade in the summer, stunning views of the Talladega Mountains, rushing streams on their rocky bed, and not just one, but two stunning waterfalls.

From the trailhead on Alabama Highway 281 and Adams Gap Road, it’s an easy first mile to the first waterfall – Cheaha Falls, a 20-foot-tall tiered waterfall that tumbles down a series of quartzite rock steps into a turquoise pool which is the perfect place to sit and reflect or perhaps take a dip on a hot summer day.

From there the hike becomes moderately difficult as you cross the creek with extreme caution and come to a great view of the surrounding mountains from the Cheaha Falls Trail Shelter.

A close encounter with the Devils Den waterfalls.
Devils Den waterfalls (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

Continuing on, you’ll come to Devils Den, a narrow gorge where water from Cheaha Creek flows through its boulder-strewn channel as it empties into Chinnabee Lake. The trail actually clings to a rock face using a stone and timber walkway where you get a great view of the gorge from above before it descends to stream level where you can see its many waterfalls and swim in the cold mountain pools. flux. After spending some time at the fascinating creek, turn around and return to the trailhead.

If you want to see either waterfall but don’t hike the 7 miles, you can split the trip into two hikes. To visit Cheaha Falls, start at the trailhead on Alabama Highway 281, visit the waterfall, then turn around and return to the trailhead for an easy one-mile hike.

To visit Devils Den only, begin the hike at Chinnabee Lake Recreation Area and hike 3.1 miles round trip along the creek to the gorge, turning around on the footbridge.

If you park your vehicle at Chinnabee Lake, remember that there is a small daily use fee required for parking. The recreation area is closed November through March due to the potential for hazardous winter road conditions.

Since both waterfalls are easily accessible from both ends of the trail, it can get crowded during the summer months. Be patient and arrive early. As of this writing, the trail is loosely marked but so well used that it is easy to follow.

The Nubbin Creek trail passes a gorge filled with waterfalls and crosses two waterfalls.
Along the Nubbin Creek Trail (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

3. Nubbin Creek Trail to Mill Shoal Waterfall, etc.

In the Talladega National Forest there are several Wild region areas. These are areas that have been designated by the National Forest Service as places that have not been obstructed by humans, leaving them virtually untouched. One such area is the Cheaha Wilderness, a more than 7,200-acre section of the forest that has been preserved by the National Forest Service and today offers hikers in Alabama a true outdoor adventure.

In this wilderness, you’ll find the Nubbin Creek Trail, which takes you deep into the forest for stunning views of three waterfalls.

The first waterfall is only half a mile into the hike where a side trail takes you to a rocky cliff for a spectacular view of Mill Shoal Cascade, a magnificent 100 foot long waterfall that tumbles through a gorge in a blue-green swimming pool.

After that, two more unnamed falls will be visited. You can’t miss them; the trail crosses both.

Both of these waterfalls are 40-foot-tall cascades that rush downstream beds over large rocks and boulders. The first waterfall will be encountered at 1.3 miles into the hike, the second at 1.6 miles. Even though the actual trail continues past this point, you’ll turn around here and return to the trailhead, making it a moderate 3.2 mile round trip hike.

The trail is a dirt and rock strewn path, and being in a wilderness area it is unmarked but well worn and maintained so it is easy to follow.

The falls are best experienced from fall to early summer. In autumn, the foliage ignites the landscape with color. In the spring, wildflowers adorn the path.

A view only of the lower level of High Falls.
high falls (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

4. Odum Scout Trail to High Falls

High Falls is hard to miss – it’s only a few feet from the High Falls trailhead on High Falls Drive in Lineville, Alabama, but what you see at the base of the falls is just the beginning, because the short moderate to difficult half-mile out-and-back hike takes you to three different segments of the falls.

The trail leaves the trailhead to the base of the falls, where you will need to carefully cross the creek to the other side. Once there, start the short – but tough – hike up the side of the waterfalls. The entire trail runs parallel to the falls.

At the top of the hill you will come to the middle pool with a beautiful 10ft waterfall filling it to the north. But as they say on TV, wait! There is more!

Continue steeply up another hill using a set of wooden and steel stairs and arrive at the third pool and a 15ft waterfall.

The hike is short and moderately difficult until you do the last push up the stairs which is rated hard.

When the falls have a good flow, be extremely careful when crossing the creek. Sometimes the water is too fast, especially after heavy rains. During these times, consider completing the hike on another day.

The Twin Ribbons of Hopeful Falls.
The Twin Ribbons of Hopeful Falls (Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj)

5. Unnamed Trail to Hopeful Falls

On a small side road in the center of the Talladega National Forest in the town of Munford, Bass Lane, there is a non-descript, unnamed trail that is perfect for families. It’s an easy half mile to a stunning waterfall that has an identity crisis. Locals call it Camp Mac Falls because it is located near the summer camp of the same name. Google Maps calls it Secret Falls. Others call it Hidden Falls. Its real name is Hopeful Falls.

Hopeful Falls is a 35 foot plunge-type waterfall that flows in separate channels forming a double ribbon of water. The water plunges over a rock ledge where it loses contact with its rocky base. When it has a good flow, you can (cautiously) walk behind the curtain of water.

As I mentioned, the trail is an easy to ride sandy trail that follows the creek to the base of the waterfalls. You will have to cross the creek flowing from the falls several times to get to the waterfall, but most of the time it is an easy crossing. Just be prepared to get your feet wet. After heavy rains, the water can be fast and high. In these cases, come back another day.

The trailhead is not marked. It is located 11 miles west of Cheaha State Park on Bass Lane in Munford, Alabama. Going down the road you will come to a 7 ton bridge. Don’t cross it. Park away from the road so you don’t block traffic before the bridge. The trail starts on the other side of the road.

The trail is not marked but it is quite easy to find; just follow the stream.

Pro tips

  • Please be careful around the waterfalls. The rocky footing is wet and slippery with moss and seaweed.
  • On some of these hikes you will have to cross streams. If the water is high and flowing fast, be extra careful, or better yet, consider coming back another time.
  • Dogs are allowed in the forest, but the forest service asks you to keep them on a 6 foot leash and pick up after them.
  • Please pack what you are taking.

For more opportunities to explore Alabama’s natural beauty, check out these articles: