They’re not The Rockies. There not even the Great Smokies, which are nearby. But in their own quiet way, Alabama’s Talladega Mountains are worth exploring. The Creek Indians called this area Chaha, or high place. South of Anniston-Oxford and east of Birmingham, the Talladegas rise to 2,407 feet, Alabama’s highest point.
This high spot is now in Cheaha State Park, Alabama’s oldest continuously operating state park dating from 1933. Cheaha’s brochure calls it a Resort Park, and it is that but one with the look of a retreat that has seen better days. It’s a sit and stare at the scenery kind of place. At least that’s what most of its visitors were doing when Ruth & I visited in late April. The initial and still existing buildings like Bald Rock Lodge and the Bunker Observation Tower were erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression. Visitors rave about Cheaha’s natural beauty and hike-worthy trails more than its facilities. It’s a traditional kind of park with biking trails, a swimming and fishing lake, campgrounds, waterfalls, etc.
The Park’s Pinhoti Dining Room at mountaintop is opened from May through November and offers weekend and seasonal buffets. It has a great view thanks to huge windows and an observation deck. We didn’t dine there even though the staff was welcoming and the fare seemed fine.
There’s a fun, all-purpose general store at Park’s entrance, a good thing since the nearest place to shop is down some uncrowded, twisting roads 18 miles away in 2 valley towns, Lineville and Ashland. Pleasant enough for a drive through if not to spend a vacation in, these towns have, over time, blended together and seem to be thriving.
A day in the Talledegas will induce nostalgia for a time when travel was about a Sunday drive in the country rather than theme park thrills and all-inclusive-resort excitement.