Thompson Falls


I was on my way to Woodville, Alabama to photograph Stephens Gap Cave. I was in my zone, my tunes playing, and was heading down the road, when I received a call from my mother-in-law. Why do these types of calls always seem to come at the worst possible time? “There’s a leak”, and there goes my Saturday.



Stephens Gap Cave is a cave with a 150 foot decent next to a water fall through one of its entrances.  In addition when the sun is overhead beams of light are seen coming through the opening.  Luckily there is also a second entrance for those of us who aren’t going to be repelling.  However, because I’m a responsible son-in-law, I turned around and headed for their place instead.




Sunday I had made tentative plans to make the trip up to Woodville. Only there was a forecast of thunderstorms for the day. This posed a real problem, since the sun play a very important role in this act. So if the weather turned sour, option two would be Thompson Falls. Thompson Falls is a set of three waterfalls, located in Arab, Alabama. Arab is not pronounced the same as a Middle Eastern person, but is pronounced as (A-Rab). The only problem with going to Thompson Falls was finding it. My directions were that it is located out in the woods somewhere around the intersection of Thompson Falls Road and Thompson Falls Drive. I searched a little longer and found a satellite map which indicated that there was a house with an above ground pool nearby.  Then after closer examination, there also appeared to be a dirt road located just before to the house.  This road could possibly lead to the falls.




Getting into the car, the skies appear to be clearing so I headed for the cave in Woodville. However, the further down the road I drove, the darker the skies became. Cloudy skies are fine for waterfalls, so I changed the GPS and headed for the great unknown.




Arriving at the intersection I turned on to Thompson Drive and passed a dirt road on my left. I knew that was my road. I continued around the curve and there set the house with an above ground pool. After turning around I parked on the dirt road.  I grab my camera and begun walking, when a truck pulled on the dirt road. For a second I thought that I heard a banjo playing in the distance.  I asked the two guys if this was the right place and they assured me that it was. He mentioned that they were riding up to the bridge.




As I continued up the road I noticed a trail that going down the side of the mountain. I took this trail thinking after all I wanted to be at the bottom of the falls anyway.




This was a huge mistake that I would regret for the rest of the day. It turns out that this trail must have been created by someone’s lifeless body that had rolled all the way to the bottom of the mountain after the person had tripped and fallen.  Surely nobody intend to come this way. It was a horrible trail. I finally made it down to the creek.




The good news was that the water was low so that I could easily cross the creek to get to a better position. The bad news was that the water was low, so my water fall didn’t appear quite as I might have pictured it beforehand.




I didn’t notice any other trails, so I headed back up the cliff of death until I could cross over to the next waterfall. As I climbed over a boulder to see the falls I discover a piece of linoleum flooring had apparently washed over the falls when it did have water flowing, and was sticking up in the middle of my shot. This meant climbing over and removing it from the creek.




Then it was back to fighting that mountain again until I could get to the third waterfall. This was the one that I had seen in other photographs.  Thankfully the water was low enough so I could walk across the cascading rocks and find a good position to photograph it.  I still couldn’t see any other trails, but I knew that there had to be a better way.



So it was back to climbing again. When I reached the top, I looked like I had fallen into the creek below. I was soaked with sweat. Now for a second I wanted to head downhill to my car, but I couldn’t resist finding that bridge a possibly an easier way.


Just around the corner was the bridge, and as I crossed it I saw the nice little easy trail that lead down the other side. I really was exhausted and decided to leave any more discoveries for another day when there was actually water flowing in the creek. Of course the storms never came either and at times the sun shone as well. However, I still had a great time.

17 thoughts on “Thompson Falls

    1. I appreciate the comment Len. Weather can be challenging. I hope to get over to Stephen Gap soon while it is nice. It sound like an amazing place to visit.

  1. This post only shows how important it is to be flexible. Even though you hadn’t plan to photograph Thompson Falls in the first place, you came back with some real nice images. It almost looks like a jungle around the falls. Beautiful!

    1. Thank you Otto. Believe me the way I chose to go could be called a jungle. 🙂 It is a beautiful place. I’m planning on going back sometime when there is more water.

  2. Outstanding effort and wonderful read, Phillip. Sometimes things don’t go as planned but the results can often be quite rewarding.

    This is a great series of images.

  3. This piece of land was named after my ancestor Tuttle Thompson who established Arab. I am traveling there this weekend to experience this myself. Living in Indiana I don’t get “home” too much. Thank you for your pictures. They are beautiful.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I hope that you have a safe trip down and that you’ll find water in the creek. Until this week we haven’t had that much rain. I hate to say it, but I was recently out south of Birmingham, and found normally flowing creeks all but dry.

  4. I use to go here in my teenage years and to other falls, swimming holes and creeks. Just out playing and taking for granted what i was actually seeing. I miss home (Guntersville) and the surrounding area.

    1. Amanda, Yes I would assume that it is. However, I don’t recall seeing any signs asking one to stay out. It is oblivious that the area gets some traffic. As with any place, if I visited, I would treat it with respect as if it was mine.

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