An ‘Alabama Bucket List’: Girls trip to Gadsden

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Bucket List:
• Cherokee Rock Village
• Noccalula Falls.
This trip was made extra special by my last minute decision to turn it into a Girls Trip! My middle child, Sissy, has been my side-kick all summer. With her being my only girl, I have embraced our time together and its value as she is growing up quickly before my very eyes.
We also decided to invite one of her sweet friends and I’m so glad we did. Girls adventuring together is just simply fun. Watching them explore and get excited about seeing something new is a mother’s dream. They made for easy travelers and I loved all the giggles and singing in the backseat, pure entertainment for the mommy chauffeur.
Our destination was Gadsden located just two hours north of Auburn, making it a nice quick two-day, one-night trip. Since it was just us girls, my husband agreed a hotel room would be best over camping. This was an added bonus for us ladies because Sissy and I love a hotel!
We headed north just after lunch on Thursday, we would drive straight to our first destination, Cherokee Rock Village. I’ve seen the coolest pictures of this place on Instagram and knew we had to go.
The best word to describe Cherokee Rock Village is COOL! It was the neatest outdoor playground I’ve ever seen. It reminded me of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” but way better. Sissy agreed it was the coolest place we had seen on our bucket list all summer.
It took a few backroads and Sissy thought we were driving into “nowhere land” when we finally arrived at a state park that had been very well taken care of. The gentlemen at the entrance was kind and told us exactly where to go to see the best parts of Rock Village. The parking was less than a minute form the entrance, we hopped out and began our adventure.
Let’s talk about weather, because you never know what to expect this time of year. I prefer to just go for it and work the rest out later. This time, it worked. We arrived to thunder and rain sprinkles and before we knew it, it was pouring. We sat tight in a brand-new pavilion and waited it out. Thankfully, within in 10 minutes, the rain cleared and we set out.
Cherokee Rock Village is a forest setting slam full of mountainous rocks. These items together make for fun pathways and endless hideouts and tunnels amongst boulders, trees, rocks and luscious greenery.
Dirt paths lead the way, trees tower over you giving the illusion of being indoors, surrounded by massive rocks. This fun goes on and on and on. It’s an endless forest to get lost in but you’re immediately able to find your way out.
Sissy kept saying, “it’s all so natural. It doesn’t even look real, but it is.” I love this about our destinations. You see pictures of where you want to go, but it’s greatness can’t really be felt till you get there. Pictures don’t do justice for the fun and beauty of what you see with your eyes and feel beneath your feet.
My next mission is to take the boys back here with me. Shep would have been in heaven, although I would have been a nervous wreck with his busy body above all the rocks and boulders.
We managed to drive past the campground, and it was nicer than nice. We will stay here next time and I’m pretty excited about it.
We stayed the night at the Gadsden Inn and Suites. It was perfect for us ladies as it was clean and cozy and one cannot go wrong with a fancy pool. After leaving the rock village, the girls loved jumping in and cooling off into the night. The hotel was affordable, pleasant and I highly recommend for your weekend in Gadsden.
Our next stop Friday morning was Noccalula Falls. I had no idea what to expect here. I just knew it was beautiful and I wanted to see it.
There’s a pretty cool legend behind this natural beauty, of Princess Noccalula. She was known far and wide among the Indian tribes for her beauty and character. Her father arranged for her to marry a wealthy tribesman from a neighboring tribe but Princess Noccalula fell in love with a man in her own tribe, with no worldly possessions. On the day she was to marry her father’s choice of husband, she slipped away and jumped off the falls to her death. Today, there is a statue of the Princess above the falls, a reminder of history and the mystery of legend.
We arrived to a lovely state park with many travelers and campers, families young and old, with beautiful scenery all around. It is located right in the town of Gadsden, making it an easy access for passers-by and day travelers, like ourselves, minutes form our hotel.
The falls is located a short walking distance from the parking lot and campground, but the adventure really begins when you get off the path and into an unknown trail. This was our choice of excitement and it proved to be amazing.
You first see the falls from the top view. There is a lovely pool with a wide stream of rocks and slow moving water that comes down from the mountains. It branches wider and wider beneath a small bridge until it breaks into the falls, over a ledge. You can hear it from a distance but finally seeing it is a beautiful sight. Seeing it from the top wasn’t enough for us, we soon found a random path and decided to test out our skills and see where it took us.
Together, we climbed down a few boulders and weaved our way among rocks and trees and made it to the beach area at the base of the fall. Seeing it form this point of view was better than any picture I’d seen of the falls. Watching it pour over the edge, and the mist in the air as it fell into the pool below was breathtaking. You can’t help but stare in awe at the sight, amazed at such things and finding them so close to home.
Behind the falls is a cave, we saw people walking around amongst rocks and moss and ivy, looking like tiny ants. The girls quickly took off their shoes to wade into the water. Standing there, seeing the blue sky above with dancing birds and the waterfall and scenery below, you can’t help but be thankful and stand still in the moment.
We decided to take our adventure to the next level and find our way behind the falls. A gentleman had told us of a hidden path to the left of the falls, we took a chance and went after it and bingo! We found a tiny path of rocks, branches and towering trees that lead us right to the cave behind the falls. It was vast and gorgeous and we slowly crept from rock to rock, and found ourselves right behind Noccalula Falls. We felt the mist and the wind of the falls covering over us. We stayed behind the water, not attempting to go in. We sat for while on the rocks, taking it all in. It was glorious, Sissy loved every minute of it. It was the perfect place to be, not only seeing beauty, but feeling it on our skin and being so close to it.
I gave Sissy one the biggest hugs and told her how happy I was to be there with her. She sweetly told me thank you for bringing her here, something we both will never forget.
We soon said good-bye to Noccalula, with the hopes of returning one day with the boys.
The most-fun part of these trips is finding something new and beautiful close to home. I’ve learned you don’t have to look far nor travel far to see the wonders of our world. It’s also been a reminder at the simplicity of making memories. It’s not elaborate, it’s not fancy and it doesn’t bust the bank. It’s really about each other, seeing our world from a new point of view and loving the journey of life.
Bradley Robertson is a local mother, wife and creative. She’s an Auburn University graduate, loves good food and getting outside with her family. Bradley enjoys feature writing, as well as outhern culture and lifestyle writing.

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