Alabama's waterfall jewel: Caney Creek Falls

Caney Creek Falls is way off the beaten path, but it lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful waterfall in Alabama.

This waterfall lives up to reputation

I finished a Bassmaster Open tournament at Lake Pickwick over the weekend, and started looking for something cool to shoot on the way home to South Louisiana. Caney Creek Falls kept popping up in my web searches.

Driving there would add a 1.5 hours to my drive time, but the claim that it was the most beautiful waterfall in the state caught my eye.

So I went to sleep early so I could head out well before daybreak and reach the Caney Creek Falls when the light was perfect. I rolled out of bed just before 4 a.m. the next morning, threw the rest of my gear in the truck and headed out.

I climbed out of the truck about 20 minutes after sunrise, and conditions were perfect: overcast skies with not a breath of wind.

And there were no other cars in the parking lot.

Yep: Perfect!

The hike in is about 1.7 miles, but it's fairly easy through pine forests. The forest changes as you approach the creek, as pines give way to hard woods and the grand begins to fall away into the creek.

By that time the rush of water can be heard. My adrenaline was pumping as I clambered down the bank of Caney Creek, and I finally rounded the corner to get my first look at the waterfall.

It was gorgeous!

Caney Creek Falls is actually a double fall, with a small creek emptying over the ledge to the side of the main fall.

I stood soaking up the peacefulness of the moment, just listening to the song of the waterfall.

The I got to work, picking my way across the creek to get a full-on view of the waterfall and find the perfect angle for the photo.

There were several options, but my eye continually was drawn to a massive boulder on the far side of the pool from the cascade. Finally, I set up so that huge rock would create a diagonal foreground element.

The end result is beautiful, with the emerald green pool framed by the boulder and the waterfall.

I also love how the softened light of the day hit the foliage above the waterfall.

It was just perfect.

Even though I had to hike out and then drive 425 miles that day, I couldn't stop smiling.