If you like waterfalls and scenic mountain overlooks, you’ll enjoy a visit to Pisgah Gorge.
Each week in northeast Alabama, multitudes of tourists visit the waterfalls and gorge overlooks at scenic places such as Little River Canyon, Desoto State Park and Buck’s Pocket State Park. Pisgah Gorge offers sights that are equally astonishing to the ones at those other places, but due to its relatively out-of-the-way location, far fewer tourists see it.
Its notoriety hasn’t reached its full potential, and that’s a good thing for a natural wonder where you’ll start enjoying the loud sound of water crashing against huge boulders several minutes before you see the first waterfall.
Unless you go during a dry period, the two waterfalls at Pisgah Gorge will almost certainly wow you. And if you’re capable of hiking a little, you’ll be glad you made your way to the overlooks that are just a few hundred yards downstream from the waterfalls.
In a rather compact area, you can walk through the forest to the top of both waterfalls, gaze at them from high above, and then take in the unforgettable view of the gorge as it snakes its way from the western edge of Sand Mountain to Guntersville Lake.
If you go, first you’ll need to walk from the Civitan Park gate to the stage and pavilion with a red metal roof:
Walk past the left side of the pavilion, and go down the hill just a few yards and you’ll reach the large viewing deck for the first waterfall:
There’s a great deal of mountain laurel in the viewing deck area, so a visit between mid-May and early-June will reward you with the opportunity to walk among those wild blooming bushes. The next four photos show what you’ll see if you walk upstream on the trail found at the corner of the multi-level viewing deck:
If you decide to hike to the second waterfall, its rocky cliff overlook or the gorge overlook, simply walk back the way you came and head downstream on the trail at the southwest corner of the curiously large viewing deck.
You’ll soon come to a foot bridge at a stream. Looking down the slope at this spot, what is a narrow stream at the tiny bridge becomes a wide, rocky stream where you can use the rocks like stairs to go about six or seven stories down the hill to stand at the top of waterfall no. 2.
NOTE: Careless or foolish behavior while hiking in gorges and visiting scenic overlooks can be deadly. I cannot be held responsible for any injuries that occurs to any persons who fall from cliffs or into caves, creeks or rivers, at any of the locations mentioned on this website. Be careful out there.
These three photos show the bridge, the steep rocky “staircase,” and a view from the top of the waterfall:
Remember, going down a steep rocky streambed requires going back up. If you do go down to the creek’s edge at the top of the second waterfall, the six- or seven-story climb back to the trail will be the toughest part of your visit to Pisgah Gorge.
Next, hike another few hundred feet to the west and you can enjoy a lofty view of the second waterfall from about 250-300 feet above. These two photos are from that cliff:
Each waterfall appears to be about 70 to 90 feet in height.
Lastly, the trail continues to wind its way downstream past hardwoods, pines, cedars and rock formations until it reaches the park’s most-rewarding view.
When you reach the overlook, you’ll see the notch in the gorge on your left where Bryant Creek converges with Little Bryant Creek to form Jones Creek. Watch for hawks, vultures and bald eagles as you enjoy the view from the rocky bluff that allows you to see all the way to the mountains beyond the city of Scottsboro.
These three photos are from the trail and the overlook:
The photo at the top of this page is also from that overlook.
If you find yourself at this spot, there’s no reason to attempt to hike any further to the west as it’s only a few yards until you reach the edge of the Pisgah Civitan Club’s property:
Pisgah Gorge is in Jackson County, Alabama. The park gate is only 12 miles from Guntersville Lake at Bob Jones Bridge in Scottsboro, and 15 miles from Rainsville. It’s less than a mile from the heart of the quaint little town of Pisgah, and five miles from the scenic overlook at the equally out-of-the-way Gorham’s Bluff.
The park is 53 miles from Huntsville, and 46 miles from Chattanooga.
CLICK HERE to open a Google map that pinpoints the location of the gate where you will park.
It’s certainly worth the trip on its own if you are a birding or bluff-view enthusiast, or if you want to spend a couple of hours taking photos or videos at the creek, waterfalls and overlooks. Go between mid-spring and early summer to photograph the mountain laurel and rhododendron, and the first half of November to photograph the epic fall colors.
The trails are too short to recommend it just for hiking, but if you’re vacationing or enjoying a weekend getaway at Guntersville Lake, a trip to Pisgah Gorge is certainly worth the effort.
Check out my articles about Guntersville Lake and other nearby places
MountainLakesChamberofCommerce.com (Scottsboro/Jackson County)