A Kid’s View of Noccalula Falls

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Why this park isn’t just for grown-ups

by CADEN GRIDER, AGE 10 | Photos by Olivia Grider

THE LEGEND OF NOCCALULA IS ONLY PART OF THE Noccalula Falls experience. It’s also a kid’s paradise. I love to explore the majestic falls – it makes me feel free. One of my favorite things to do is go down the treacherous Gorge Trail that leads underneath the waterfall.  The big rocks are great for climbing. And the small ones are perfect for boulder bounding, another one of my favorite activities.  The most boring thing at Noccalula is the botanical garden – but my mom seems to like it.

I climb the rocks and pretend to listen to my mom talk about plants. I don’t know why adults get worked up about weeds.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]…

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[/s2If] [s2If is_user_logged_in()]They don’t even move. Every time I go to the falls I make sure to go to the “fat man’s squeeze”. You walk down some steps until you’re surrounded by giant rocks.  There are some big spaces you can run around in, but one passage between two rocks is very narrow – the fat man’s squeeze.

You can’t go to Noccalula Falls without learning about the legend that gave it its name. Noccalula was the daughter of an Indian chief. She liked this brave, but her father wanted her to marry this other brave. Noccalula was so depressed that she threw herself over the falls. A statue of her jumping is at the park. You can read more about the legend at exploresouthernhistory. com/noccalula.html. 

The gold fish pond is another great destination at the falls, but don’t expect to see average gold fish.  They’re like innocent pets grown to monstrous proportions. I walk across an old covered bridge and look out its windows to see the pond. The fish are lots of different colors – orange, white and some a combination of orange, white and black. It would be a great place for fishing if they allowed it. I could probably pull in some big ones. I saw one gigantic white  fish that I bet is 3 feet long.

Spread out around the park are lots of old pioneer buildings from the 1750s to late 1800s.  They were brought to Noccalula Falls from all over the Southeast. There’s a blacksmith shop, a general store with a post office, a school and several houses. It’s interesting to see how people lived back in those days.

For Little Kids – The petting zoo is the biggest attraction for little kids. They have goats and guinea pigs and rabbits. ( The rabbits are really soft.)  The baby bunnies are easy to pet because they freeze when you touch them.  The guinea pigs are a different story. It’s like they have motion detectors that tell them when your hand is right above them and they hop off. I get one, though. 

They also have a deer. The goats come up to the fence and look at me like, “Dude, do you have food?” I pet a brown and white one. I pet the deer, too. It seems to be paralysed with fear because it has a big audience. It’s like a person with stage fright. 

The train ride also is great for little kids.  The train goes faster than you’d think and there is a dark tunnel that’s fun for little kids.  They would like the playground, too.

Back to The Older Kid Stuff – The fenced petting area is right next to a barn that contains a mini zoo with snakes, turtles, lizards, colorful tropical birds, native birds and native Alabama animals. The rabbits and guinea pigs are in there, too. One animal really interests me. It is a baby crocodile named Lucy. Clara Webb, who works at Noccalula Falls taking care of the animals, told me Lucy is 2 years old. Clara is 16 and wants to be a veterinarian. She said she’s learned from her job at Noccalula Falls that she wants to work with zoo-type animals like crocodiles and birds of paradise.

Noccalula Falls also has a mini-golf course. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but it looks like a good one. 

The last thing I’m going to cover is the bridge next to the top of the waterfall. It gives you a great view of the water rushing toward the falls. Lots of ducks swim in the water and sit on the banks of the river there. At the end of the bridge, they have little machines that give you food to feed the ducks.

My conclusion is you need to turn off your video game and go to Noccalula Falls!

About the Author:

Caden Grider just finished fifth grade. He likes to play baseball, go on nature trails and play video games. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends and watching Alabama football games.

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