Parking: 34 14.128N, 087 26.058W
Chances are, if you’ve ever looked at any photos from Bankhead National Forest in Alabama, one of the shots was of Caney Falls. This is due to several factors: it’s an easy hike at about 2 miles round trip to the upper falls, it’s a pretty waterfall, and it flows year round. The green and blue tint the water picks up from dissolved minerals combined with the bright evergreen colors of the hemlocks and the moss covered silvery grey of the exposed limestone make for a beautiful destination easy enough for preschoolers to tackle.
The hike in is simple, park in the small parking area at the coordinates and cross the gate, follow the old road as it changes from roadbed to footpath. The path takes a long drop down a hillside to where the creek flows. There’s an overlook of sorts from the very top of the falls and a path leads upstream from there. Another path leads along the edge of the canyon formed by the falls and makes its way down to the base via a short, steep path. Keep an eye on footing in this section.
The falls go out over the lip of the rock forming a ‘cave’ behind the waterfall that kids and many adults can’t resist. In warmer weather, jumping through the falls to swim in the pool at the base is chilly fun. The water is always cold, ranging around 65 degrees due in part to the near constant shade of Bankhead and partly from the many many springs that feed into the creeks.
The trail continues via crossing the creek below the falls and following the creek downstream to reach the second smaller set of falls, Lower Caney Falls. There’s a good swimming hole, but from personal experience, there are more nibbling fish in this one as well!
What to expect: There is a homemade sign, quite large, for the parking area. Not sure how long that will remain up. There are no bathrooms or picnic facilities. Backpacking is allowed, but before you plan an overnight, check with the ranger station for information such as trail closures or fire bans at 205-489-5111. Also good to know is the local hunting season and prescribed fire schedule, you can get an overview here.