This is a surprisingly rewarding tour through Northeast Alabama, featuring waterfalls, rock formations, and even a giant sinkhole that almost nobody would think of looking for in this state. Rid your notion of Alabama as an uninspiring flat farmland and see what a lesser known state can offer. https://rccircuit93.wordpress.com/2021/03/16/alabama-hidden-gems-by-the-northeast-rocks-and-rivers/ gives my full recount of my time there.
My inspiration for the Walls of Jericho hike came from https://www.thediscoverer.com/blog/the-best-hike-in-every-state/XvHyVpKgiwAG5a1K. If you visit the cave preserves in Alabama (and you should), you'll need to sign up for a permit from https://permits.scci.org/, since those caves are owned by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy. Going into the caves require a >1 person party, though some caves can be explored on the surface by just one person.
I stayed in the city of Gadsden, AL, as the centerpoint of most of the attractions I planned to visit. It was also conveniently close to Noccalula Falls.
There are many restaurants in the nearby cities of downtown Gadsden/Rainbow City. Some sea food, some Asian restaurants can be found, among typical American cuisine.
Day 1 (I visit more northwest locations first):
This is arguably the best waterfall you'll see in Alabama, provided that there's been enough rainfall. It's near the city of Gadsden, and features a very deep, wide gorge for a potentially humongous waterfall to pour through.
Other accomodations at this park are family friendly (will need $6 admission fee), and also some hiking trails. Make sure you go on the Black Creek Trails, which provides a path downhill into the gorge below. You can then hike to the base of the falls, and go behind it to hear it roar over you.
Walls of Jericho Hike:
These "walls" are amphitheater-style limestone rock cliffsides that surround a small secluded creekbed in the middle of the forest. It is located right on the Alabama-Tennessee border and is a very difficult 6 mile roundtrip hike with many inclines to overcome. Expect 4 hours total for this place; I finished in about 3.
There's a section of the bluffs that can be climbed in order to traverse another creekbed on top. It was dry the day I went, but there's a secret waterfall hidden if you walk far enough. Once you see that slope the waterfall pours from, you won't be able to go any further.
High Falls Park:
An Alabama local favorite, this falls actually consists of multiple waterfalls (depending on rainfall) flowing over a 300ft wide, 35ft high rock wall. There is an arched rock that stands defiantly near and against the rapids.
On wet days, multiple furious waterfalls form. On drier days, this zone turns into a swimming hole, where people jump off the rock cliffs. Whenever the river is slow enough, you can also wade in the shallow portions just above the falls.
Cherokee Rock Village (if available time):
This quaint little "village" has multiple giant rock formations perched on the top of a mountain. You can climb atop these rocks to have a great view into the outstretching valleys and lakes, or hike around and through the bottoms of these rocks. Ticket admission is $6 for a day visit.
Day 2 (more northeastern locations):
Among the most unique caves you'll ever see, since it's essentially a sinkhole that can be climbed down through (requires a >1 person party). Again, you'll need a SCCI permit to use the parking lot and access it.
This is a very remotely hidden 160 ft deep sinkhole that sometimes has small waterfalls flowing down its dark abyss. It seems huge in person, and can easily be the most intriguing sight in Alabama.
A majestic 100 ft high waterfall that is helped by a dam just a few feet before it. Unfortunately, it can still run dry in hotter seasons. It pours into a glorious wide canyon below, making the ground level become a fantastic swimming hole. There's no way to get to the base of the falls other than swimming towards it (not recommended during high flow).
I do not know how to access the ground view of it. There's an easy 10 second walk from the parking lot to get the balcony view of it though.
Little River Canyon National Preserve:
This canyon created by the Little River can be several hundred feet deep, and features a few waterfalls, overlooks, and hiking trails connected by a scenic drive throughout the preserve.
The main thing you should see is Little River Falls, which is very close to a highway bridge. You can also get closer to the riverside (without guardrails) around that same area.
Otherwise, you should check some of the overlooks as they show an impressively deep, wide canyon for the Southeast. I didn't do the hiking trails when I was there though.
Things I didn't have time for, but might interest you?
There's a wide variety of caves that could be found throughout Northeast Alabama. Explore the possibilities, but I highly recommend Stephen's Gap, which can potentially feature a ray of sunlight to shine through the cave hole at the right time. I couldn't go there myself since both the above-ground hike and the spelunking required more than 1 person.
For more elevated sights, you can see Buck's Pocket State Park or Cheaha State Park (highest point in AL). You can check out other waterfalls too, but I believe I picked the best ones here.
Tour through this region of Alabama and see where your GPS pulls you. It'll be like a treasure hunt in a place where most people didn't think you'd find anything.