12 Parks in Gadsden, Alabama

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along the banks of the Coosa River lies Gadsden, Alabama. This city of around 35,000 residents offers a surprisingly wide array of parks and green spaces to enjoy, from manicured gardens to wild and rugged nature preserves.

No.Park NameFeatures
1Noccalula Falls ParkWaterfall, hiking trails, campground
2Chief Ladiga TrailBiking, walking, scenic views
3Moragne ParkPlaygrounds, picnic areas, trails
4Coosa River BoardwalkFishing, scenic views, walking path
5James D. Martin Wildlife ParkBirdwatching, nature trails
6Lookout Mountain ParkwayScenic drives, overlooks, hiking
7Convention Hall ParkEvent space, historic significance
8Forrest CemeteryHistorical tours, serene environment
9Broad Street Bridge ParkUrban green space, community events
10Gadsden Moragne ParkAquatic center, sports facilities
11Gadsden Cultural Arts CenterArts, performances, community events
12Black Creek TrailsMountain biking, hiking, nature walks

In this article, we will showcase 12 of the best parks found in Gadsden and highlight what makes each one worth a visit. From a tribute to those who fought for freedom to creekside trails and sporting facilities, Gadsden’s parks offer something for everyone. Families, outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs and casual wanderers will all discover an engaging open space to relax in and explore.

Noccalula Falls Park – Enjoy Waterfalls and Gorgeous Mountain Scenery

Name and Location: Noccalula Falls Park is located at 1500 Noccalula Rd in Gadsden, AL overlooking the 90-foot waterfall and gorge of Black Creek.

History and Significance: Established in the 1800s around the dramatic waterfall, Noccalula Falls Park has long offered recreation like camping, miniature train rides, and the renowned pioneer village displaying Gadsden’s early settler homes and buildings.

What to Expect: Visitors explore the gorgeous Black Creek Gorge waterfall and scenery via hiking trails, observation decks, and an elevated boardwalk winding through hardwood forests and wetlands. Interpretive nature center on grounds.

Visitor Information: Noccalula Falls Park open daily 8am-dusk. $6 admission fee for ages 12+. Camping and train rides additional cost. Petting zoo, concessions on site.

Without a doubt, Noccalula Falls Park is the most iconic and instantly recognizable park in Gadsden. This 250-acre space is nestled into the edge of the southernmost reaches of the Appalachian foothills, surrounding the stunning 90-foot waterfall of the same name.

Legend tells that Noccalula, a Cherokee maiden, plunged to her death over the falls while trying to evade capture from a rival tribe. Today a bronze sculpture depicting the fateful leap stands as a tribute in the park.

Beyond its namesake cascade, Noccalula Falls Park offers plenty of family-friendly activities. Train rides, miniature golf, paddle boating and a petting zoo keep kids entertained for hours. Meandering trails allow you to take in the cascades from multiple angles and viewpoints.

While the manicured sections are appealing, it’s worth wandering off the beaten track along the Black Creek Trail for gorgeous scenery in a wilder setting. Watch for unique rock formations, small caves and lush native vegetation. With so much flexibility, Noccalula Falls covers a broad spectrum of park experiences all in one convenient and beautiful location.

Chief Ladiga Trail – Walk, Run or Bike for Miles on a Converted Railroad Track

Name and Location: The Chief Ladiga Trail is a 33-mile rails-to-trails pathway from Piedmont AL to Weaver AL utilizing a former railroad corridor.

History and Significance: The flat, paved Chief Ladiga Trail was Alabama’s first rails-to-trails project opening in 1996 along the former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad route. It passes through forest, farmland, and small towns like Gadsden.

What to Expect: Bikers, walkers, and runners traverse the Chief Ladiga Trail’s straight, car-free route spanning northwest Alabama. Pick up the pathway in downtown Gadsden to journey nature observation decks, rest stops, and shadowy trestles crossing water.

Visitor Information: Chief Ladiga Trail open daily dawn-to-dusk for free public recreation use. Access parking lots positioned intermittently including behind Noccalula Falls Park Campground.

For an opportunity to stretch your legs, you can’t do better than the nearly 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail. Converted from an old railroad passage, this concrete greenway winds through woods, across bridges and alongside wetlands as it connects Gadsden to the border of Georgia.

Named for a respected Cherokee chief who was forcibly removed from his ancestral home via the Trail of Tears, the trail allows you to traverse Northeast Alabama while reflecting on the region’s history. Part of a longer system called the Silver Comet Trail, you can walk, run or bike your way as far as the Atlanta area should your stamina allow.

Benches scattered periodically give you a chance to pause and admire your lush and scenic surroundings. The sheer length and linear nature of Chief Ladiga Trail means you can travel as far as your abilities allow at your own pace. Those with limited mobility can even enjoy short wheelchair-accessible sections.

Come for stargazing events or simply soak up solitude and fresh air while getting some exercise. You’re equally likely to encounter serious cyclists, jogging groups, or ambling families as you travel the Chief Ladiga Trail through the very heart of Gadsden’s parks system.

Moragne Park – Relive Gadsden History in Downtown

Name and Location: Moragne Park sits downtown on the Coosa River at 100 Guest Drive.

History and Significance: Once Gadsden’s busy 19th century riverboat port named Moragne Landing, this riverfront park recalls Gadsden’s founding near the Coosa River and growth fueled by steamboat commerce sending its lucrative cotton, timber and minerals worldwide.

What to Expect: Visitors stroll brick pathways through lush Moragne Park viewing historic markers detailing Gadsden’s early river landing years. Concert pavilion, gazebo, and riverside seating areas offer space to relax surrounded by elegant Victorian style lampposts and architectural remnants of the 19th century steamship landing.

Visitor Information: Moragne Park lies adjacent Gadsden Convention Hall downtown from the river to Walnut Street Bridge. Open daily without fees or permits required.

Tucked behind City Hall in downtown Gadsden, Moragne Park offers a cool retreat from the urban landscape. This small park plays host to numerous festivals and events throughout the warmer months. With a pavilion and plenty of lawn area, concerts, craft fairs and gatherings come alive here regularly.

Yet it’s history that sets Moragne Park apart. A marble monument catalogs Gadsden’s origins and recounts the biography of founder Gabriel Hughes Moragne. Other memorials commemorate lives lost in 20th century conflicts.

Perhaps most striking is Nena, the iconic sculpture of a Cherokee maiden poised on a bench. Crafted from carved marble by acclaimed artist Audrey Usody, Nena represents unwavering courage through turmoil.

With so many references to regional history, Moragne Park provides important context to downtown Gadsden’s past while serving as a modern-day communal space.

Lookout Mountain Parkway – Reconnect with Nature Above the City

Name and Location: Lookout Mountain Parkway is a 16 miles scenic motor route following the brow of Lookout Mountain from Gadsden to Little River Canyon, Alabama.

History and Significance: This National Scenic Byway was charted in the 1930’s through northeast Alabama’s most dramatic mountain vistas, Civil War battle landscapes, and state parks and recreation areas. It offers motorists a signature driving experience in the region.

What to Expect: Travelers traverse the winding ridge-running road overlooking the breathtaking valley scenery revealing pastoral patchwork fields, forested peaks, and river valleys around each bend. Frequently positioned roadside pull-offs provide panoramic views well suited for photographs.

Visitor Information: Lookout Mountain Parkway stretches along AL-176 with no gates or fees to access. Allow ample time for leisurely sightseeing, picnicking roadside, and photography stops when driving.


Scenic drives abound around Gadsden, but Lookout Mountain Parkway stands out for its easy accessibility and stellar views. Located just 4 miles from downtown, the road winds through the southern portion of the Choccolocco Wildlife Management Area and City of Gadsden property for 7 miles.

As you climb higher along the route, you’re treated to an eagle-eyed panorama over downtown and across the Coosa River with the Appalachian foothills beyond. Interpretive signs point out landmarks visible below.

While vehicles are restricted to the parkway, you can explore side trails on foot to fully immerse yourself in nature. Listen for the songs of wintering sparrows in the brushy woodland understory. Scan for circling hawks riding thermals above.

Come springtime, wildflowers ignite along the roadway in drifts of vibrant colors. Longleaf pine savannas interspersed with rock outcrops characterize the ridgetops where Lookout Mountain Parkway eventually terminates.

For such proximity to the city, the lush peacefulness along this sky-high byway lets you forget you’re just minutes from downtown.

Convention Hall Park – Mix Business with Pleasure

Name and Location: Convention Hall Park borders the Coosa River at 90 Broad Street adjoining the Gadsden Convention Hall complex downtown.

History and Significance: Originally built in the 1960s as municipal auditorium and sports arena, Convention Hall Park provides landscaping and event space for the modernized riverfront complex plus access to Coosa Riverwalk trails.

What to Expect: Tree-lined brick walkways with ironwork benches and street lamps lead visitors from Convention Hall to War Memorial Park honoring hometown military heroes. Mature magnolia, holly and oak trees populate grassy riverbanks descending to the Coosa River.

Visitor Information: Convention Hall Park lies between Broad St and Walnut St bridges from 90 Broad St to Moragne Park. Public can access sunrise to sunset free of charge.

Tucked behind the Convention Hall complex, this compact park packs a lot into a small footprint. Its chief purpose is to accompany the adjacent 42,000 square foot event venue hosting conferences, expos, concerts and similar large-scale happenings.

Yet Convention Hall Park proves you can seamlessly intermix green spaces into developed areas. A tree-lined lawn flush with azaleas forms the park’s backbone. From here, paths lead to a tranquil waterfall flowing from an ornamental pond as well as a sculpture garden showcasing works from local artists.

Wander through exhibits from current shows inside Convention Hall, then step right outside to enjoy lunch on a park bench or lawn. Come summer, colorful plantings and flowers surround splashing fountains. For those craving shade, numerous mature hardwood trees tower overhead across the open expanse.

It may lack the grandeur of larger parks, but Convention Hall Park packs a visual punch in creative uses of small spaces.

Forrest Cemetery – Remember the Past While Enjoying Nature

Name and Location: Historic Forrest Cemetery lies in downtown Gadsden bounded by Chestnut, Seventh and Bay Streets with its entrance at 723 Chestnut Street.

History and Significance: Founded 1856 with additions into the mid 20th century, Forrest Cemetery holds over 13,000 graves on its scenic grounds populated with mature trees and elaborate Victorian-era headstones and mausoleums. Historical luminaries rest here.

What to Expect: Stroll or drive gently winding lanes revealing gravesites of Alabama governors, congressmen, war heroes plus other important Gadsden historical figures. Notable artists also interred in the shady, tranquil setting. Occasional guided group tours available.

Visitor Information: The cemetery remains open daily without fees 8am until dusk for self-guided public walkthroughs. Contact 256-390-3360 to arrange group tours by appointment.


Few would immediately equate a cemetery with a vibrant, worthwhile park space. Yet Gadsden’s historic Forrest Cemetery offers exactly that through meticulous restoration and conservation efforts.

Established in 1855 and named for Civil War Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, the cemetery holds the graves of many noteworthy Alabamians. However, years of neglect left the grounds in dire shape.

Thanks to dedicated volunteers and city programs, Forrest Cemetery once again resembles the dignified, inspiring landscape it began as. Wild areas brim with native plants while historic headstones emerge from choking vegetation.

It now serves as both an important record of Gadsden’s past as well as a place to seek natural respite. Seasonal history tours and monthly clean-up days strengthen connections between community and environment. Whether you have personal connections to those interred or simply want to honor Gadsden’s origins, a revitalized Forrest Cemetery deserves your visit.

Covington Park – Sweeping Landscapes Meet the Waterfront

Name and Location: Covington Park encompasses 47 acres at 30 Covington Ln a half mile east of downtown Gadsden, bordering the Coosa River.

History and Significance: Once estate of prominent local businessman R.B. Kyle, the City of Gadsden opened Covington Park’s sweeping landscape to the public in 1985 for walking trails, monuments, gardens, athletic fields and expansive riverfront views along the Coosa.

What to Expect: Broad expanses of open grassy fields give way to the lush Coosa River tree-line. Visitors enjoy riverside vistas plus amenities like athletic courts/fields, playgrounds, Vienna Coffee House and linkage to Black Creek trails.

Visitor Information: Covington Park lies east of downtown’s Second Street along the Coosa River’s north bank. Free access daily 5am-11pm without permits required. Lighting provided evenings.

Trails through managed woodlands, a disc golf course through semi-open meadows, and a boat launch area along the Coosa River – Covington Park encompasses a delightful variety of environments.

Enter through the woodland trail network closest to downtown to wander shaded paths through mature hardwood stands and pine savannas. Catch glimpses of the river through breaks in the vegetation as you pass signs detailing forest ecology.

Toward the northern section, kept more open through routine bush-hogging, you’ll find an 18-hole disc golf course. Even if you don’t play, it’s an ideal spot for a picnic as sweeping views open up across the peninsula toward downtown.

At the tip of the point sits the boat launch facility, accessed via River Road. As Gadsden’s only public ramp, you’ll share the space with anglers and recreational boaters. Watch crews practicerescues and flotation device usage in the calm waters.

With diversity across habitats and recreation options, Covington Park has broad appeal. You may come with one activity in mind only to be delighted by what you discover across other sections of the park.

Black Creek Trail – Follow Forgotten Rail Lines Through History

Name and Location: Black Creek Trail runs 7 miles following the Black Creek corridor from Noccalula Falls through Gadsden to the Coosa River.

History and Significance: This rails-to-trail pathway traces the former Alabama City Mineral Railroad route used to transport coal and limestone in Gadsden’s early industrial boom years. Interpretive placards along trail describe the railroad and mining history.

What to Expect: Walkers, joggers, and bikers follow this paved urban greenway through neighborhoods, commercial areas and woods spotting relics of Gadsden’s mining and railroads legacy. Benches, fitness stations, playgrounds and fountains intersperse the route.

Visitor Information: Black Creek Trail accessible free to the public dawn-to-dusk. Parking at Noccalula Falls Campground, downtown’s Convention Hall, Covington Park and additional access points along trail.

Gadsden’s Black Creek Trail may lack the polish and flair of Chief Ladiga Trail along the old railroad route, but what it lacks in development it makes up for in gritty charm. Sections still hold remnants of rail infrastructure slowly being overtaken by vegetation.

Much like Chief Ladiga, Black Creek Trail runs along abandoned rail lines. But the absence of paved pathways or manicured landscaping lends a wilder feel. The trail hugs the winding waterway it takes its name from as it cuts through Gadsden’s industrial zone.

Bridges spanning the creek offer wonderful views along the water with surprisingly little visible development. Look for herons stalking prey in muddy backwaters as you walk or bike the route.

While you stroll the trail, imagine bygone trains loaded with coal, iron and lumber clattering along through the very corridor you now occupy. Though the commerce the rail lines facilitated shaped Gadsden significantly, nature is gradually reclaiming the land.

Twin Bridges Park – Celebrate Where History and Scenery Align

Name and Location: Twin Bridges Park sits aside the Coosa River at 298 Twin Bridges Rd just northeast of downtown Gadsden.

History and Significance: This riverside park preserves the historic 1890 iron truss bridge over the Coosa River connecting the industrial Alabama City neighborhood to greater Gadsden. Today, a second modern bridge allows pedestrian sightseeing of the aged icon.

What to Expect: Visitors walk pathways circling the twin bridges to admire views of the river gorge and Lower Bridge authentically showcasing aribos vital to Gadsden’s early 20th century economic boom. Interpretive displays on grounds. Riverside charm.

Visitor Information: Twin Bridges Park open dawn till dusk without fees or permits. Only access is pedestrian as historic bridge closed to vehicles. Some street parking available.


Recognizable by its distinctive dual bridge spans arching over the Coosa River, Twin Bridges Park celebrates a unique intersection between infrastructure and environment. The scenic park hugs the heights above Lake Neely Henry.

The existing bridges, opened in 1961, show signs of aging but carry immense history. Plans exist to replace the original spans with a more modern bridge complex better suited to current traffic needs.

Yet the City of Gadsden wisely chose to preserve the slip of land between bridge approaches as park space. From precipitous bluffs, you enjoy panoramic views across the sparkling reservoir framed by the arcing gray bridges and lush banks beyond.

Fishing piers extending into the lake are popular with families and angler groups alike. Connecting trails weave through native vegetation, offering new perspective out over the water as they wind toward picnic areas. Interpretive signage chronicles the lake’s creation and impact on commerce through hydroelectric power and river travel.

Despite the ever-present backdrop of infrastructure, Twin Bridges Park showcases the region’s natural beauty in evocative ways unique to the location.

Blackstone Park – Adventure Across Bike Trails and Lake Views

Name and Location: Blackstone Park sits 2 miles northeast of downtown Gadsden at 1001 US Highway 278.

History and Significance: Once estate of prominent local industrialist James C. Benson, the City of Gadsden opened the 47-acre Blackstone Park in 2008 for recreation and event amenities like a playground, athletic fields, bike trails circling a 12-acre fishing lake.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy walks around the lake and wooded surroundings plus sports facilities ideal for soccer, football, fishing events. Interpretive signage explains James Benson’s contributions. Scenic, ample space for gatherings small or large.

Visitor Information: Blackstone Park open daily 5am-11pm without fees or permits required. Lighting provided evenings. Phone 256-549-4725 regarding event rentals.


Situated atop Lookout Mountain just minutes outside downtown, Fred P. Blackstone Memorial Park packs exhilarating outdoor adventure into a tight but stunningly scenic package. Designed by students of the local high school, the park’s highlight is its stacked loop system specifically built for mountain biking.

Spread across a mix of natural and reclaimed mining land, the bike trail network was constructed by volunteers through the non-profit Get Outdoors Gadsden starting in 2016. Difficulty varies from gentle greens up to double black diamonds across five distinct named routes linked via connectors, allowing you to customize distance and challenge.

While the mountain bike offerings are themselves impressive, it’s the scenery that cements Blackstone Park as a must-visit destination. Panoramic vistas over downtown and across Lake Neely Henry accompany you throughout the rides, lending airy openness to an otherwise technical trail network.

Come springtime, the heavily wooded slopes ignite with flame azalea blossoms to further up the beauty factor. What began as an abandoned scar on the mountainside is now a world-class bike park certain to draw adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.

Kyle Cochrane Park – Play Disc Golf Alongside Historic Canals

Name and Location: Kyle Cochrane Park encompasses 80 acres at 300 Oxford Way a half mile north of downtown Gadsden adjoining Convention Hall Park near the Coosa River.

History and Significance: Once estate of local textile mill owners, the scenic property was acquired by the City of Gadsden in 2015 to establish an expansive city park with amenities like a 18-hole disc golf course winding through the landscape’s mature trees alongside restored 19th century canal walls.

What to Expect: With a peaceful natural setting, Kyle Cochrane Park provides space for disc golf and walks along remnants of the 1867 Coosa River canal system. Interpretive signage describes species inhabiting the lush park.

Visitor Information: Kyle Cochrane Park lies between Convention Hall and the Coosa River, bounded by 4th and 6th Streets. Free general access daily 8am-8pm without permits required. Bring own disc golf equipment.

Another converted brownfield turned vibrant park space, Kyle Cochrane Park mixes recreation and history through a meticulously designed 18-hole disc golf course. Once the site of a power generation plant for Gulf States Steel, the obsolete buildings were raised in the early 2000s.

What could have been an eyesore is now a destination for disc golfers to challenge themselves across open and wooded holes skirting the remnants of old power canals. Other visitors come simply to walk the landscaped paths through wildflower meadows surrounded by new-growth forest.

Each hole highlights natural or architectural features, lending focus to landmarks like stonework bridges spanning the narrow waterways. As a relatively new addition to Gadsden’s parks system, Kyle Cochrane Park continues to evolve aesthetically yet already packs great potential among the chain of remediated industrial properties.

Walnut Park – Relax Alongside a Historic Cemetery

Name and Location: Walnut Park lies in downtown Gadsden centered around the Walnut Grove Cemetery at the intersection of Walnut St and 7th St.

History and Significance: Dating to 1870, Walnut Grove Cemetery holds over 300 graves of African Americans integral to Gadsden’s early days when they where excluded from whites-only Forrest Cemetery. Encompassing green space preserves their history.

What to Expect: This small landscaped memorial park provides space for quiet reflection when strolling the sidewalks through Walnut Grove Cemetery. Historic figures instrumental to civic progress rest here though many graves are unmarked.

Visitor Information: Walnut Park open daily without fees or permits required. Granite monument honors African Americans buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery and others buried in forgotten graveyards.

Tucked behind the old stone gates of Forrest Cemetery rests 4 acres of open, rolling green space perfect for whiling away lazy afternoons. Known as Walnut Park, these grounds served as the original cemetery dating back to Gadsden’s early settlement. Over time, burials shifted to the adjacent hillsides until Walnut Park was discontinued for interments.

Today only one grave remains marked by a weathered obelisk, while the rest of the verdant expanse remains open as a passive neighborhood park. Mature walnut and oak trees line the low stone walls along 5th street, filtering dappled sunlight through spreading branches.

Without visible headstones or memorials, you can almost envision Walnut Park as any other open grassy glade. Yet the proximity to thousands of graves over the wall offers tangible perspective on the passage of time and cycles of change reflected in nature.

For residents nearby, Walnut Park’s acreage is invaluable as an accessible spot for relaxing strolls, reading sessions, enjoying takeout lunches or simply cloud watching for hours undisturbed.

Conclusion

Gadsden’s parks run the gamut from secluded open spaces to bluffs overlooking waterfronts to raging waterfalls in the embrace of mountains. While the scale and grandeur of offerings like Noccalula Falls steal the spotlight, even compact neighborhood affairs like Kyle Cochrane or Walnut Park enrich residents’ lives greatly.

Through dedicated revitalization initiatives, once damaged or neglected sites are assuming new lives as recreation destinations that strengthen connections between people and nature. Lush beauty mingles with powerful history across Gadsden to create parks that rouse the spirit as much as the landscape does.

Whether you call Gadsden home already or are just passing through, time spent immersed in hypnotic waterfalls, windswept ridges, or flower-strewn floodplain parks promises to rejuvenate mind, body and soul through the glories of the natural world.

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