Canoe and Cliff Jump at Lake Nicol

Lake Nicol Parking Area

Lake Nicol is a relatively small but versatile man made lake about twenty minutes away from downtown Tuscaloosa, AL. It offers a seemingly secluded and somewhat uncrowded natural location very near to the city.

Lake Nicol has several miles of unofficial trails that circle the west bank of the lake which features up to forty foot cliffs that provide both cliff jumping and an excellent view of the lake. Lake Nicol also has a boat/kayak/canoe launch area right next to the parking area. Nicol is over three miles long, and with different inlets, cliffs, and an island to explore, there is plenty to do on the water. A great place to take beginners canoe camping for the first time!

Tip: If you are photographing the sunset, be in either the first or third of the three big bends or the cliffs/trees will block the best light.

Pack List

  • Swim trunks
  • Kayak/canoe/SUP
  • Beer
  • Trash bag (leave no trace y'all)
  • No permit or pass required (even for overnight parking)
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RT Distance 1 Miles
Elevation Gain 40 Feet
Activities Canoeing, Chillin, Camping, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Relaxing and awesome for a group of friends

Decided to travel two hours east to check this place out. It’s been about a year ago now. 7 of us piled into a 5 seat SUV with a cooler full of water, sodas, and snacks. We had to ask a couple strangers about where to park and where to find the cliffs but luckily they were easy to find. Just look for the obvious gate and signs that just about scream at you “$500 fine” and “Don’t do this.” After about an hour of all of us trying to work up the courage to plummet to my shallow water death, I finally took the initiative and bounced off the cliff to set an example for my friends. Everyone bailed off next and had a great time except for Logan who walked away with scorched feet and the breath knocked out of him from landing face first from 30 Feet. 8/10 though. I enjoyed it a lot. He didn’t.

Great Place but no camping

We checked out this lake this past weekend and drove down from Birmingham for a 2 day adventure. Our original plan was to boat all day then find an alcove to camp in. It is probably possible but not so easily done especially because police patrol the cliffs looking for drunk swimmers. The swimming, boating, and cliff jumping are incredible though and we had an amazing time out on the lake. I definitely will be back and recommend it to anyone just don't plan on camping at this site. There are several great campsites that are cheap nearby. I suggest looking at Deerlick.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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