By Cody Hood

The day started off with no real plans. It was May 21st and I had the day off of work. We were supposed to have gone to Dauphin Island to camp for the weekend, but bad weather in the Gulf kept us home. Wanting to get out and do some adventuring, I decided to take the family out to Parker Falls in the Bankhead National Forest. I had only been to the falls one before after researching and finding where the trailhead was. I usually always will research an area and then head out alone to find the location that I’m seeking.

Sometimes I find out on the 1st try, sometimes it takes several trips to find what I’m looking for. As previously stated, I had been out to the falls of few weeks prior and was fine with taking the family there. Or son loves to go out and play at the waterfalls and I knew this one was a good one to take him too. The hike is short (about a mile) and was fairly easy. After parking at the trailhead, gearing up, and applying tick spray, we headed down the trail. The trail is pretty well traveled and easy to follow. There’s several small Pine trees that hand be blown over that are easily stepped over along the way. After hiking a little ways, the trail begins to descend into the canyon where the falls are located. On the way down you come to a small creek that you have to cross to continue down into the canyon. The creek forms what I’ve heard called the Parker Cascades, they are several small stair stepped waterfalls all the way down to Parker branch. It hadn’t rained a lot the two times I’ve been, but I’m sure with some rainfall, these cascades are a sight to see.

Even with little rainfall, the cascades were still awesome to see. The trail gets a little close to the edge of the canyon in a couple of spots and I was a little worried how our son Deegan would do in those spots, be he did great and it was a non issue.

At the bottom of the cascades you take a sharp right and cross at the bottom of the last cascade and go up the branch to get to the falls. Just a few steps from there you come to a spot where people have camped at before complete with a fire ring (there was a couple camping in this spot the last time I came). Just beyond the campsite, through the trees is Parker Falls. To get to the falls you either walk across Parker branch or rock hop some large boulders in the branch. On this day it was extremely humid and the already slippery rocks were very slippery. I decided we would walk across the creek since we came prepared to play in the water for awhile anyways. After dropping our packs Deegan immediately got into the water. The water was a bit chilly still, but that never seems to bother him. The area is beautiful with bluffs all around you and with the tree canopy, only a little bit of sun shines in making the area a great place to hangout for awhile on a hot day and enjoying being outdoors.

We stayed for several hours playing in the water, exploring the area a little, eating lunch, and taking pictures. When it came time to go, Deegan was sad and didn’t want to leave. I’m so glad he enjoys being out like that and we are lucky to live so close to Bankhead National Forest and the Sipsey Wilderness. I’ll definitely have to load the family up and take them out there again soon.

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