DELTA, Ala. – February will be gone before you know it and warmer weather along with the Spring season is sure to be right around the corner. Many people will leave the area, or even the state, to take advantage of one of the prettiest times of the year. But what if there was a place that could give you all the satisfaction like the beach & Gatlinburg right in our own backyard?
There is such a place. It’s called Cheaha State Park.
Cheaha State Park is Alabama’s oldest and longest continuously operated state park. Construction on the park started in 1933 during the first 100 days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a project to help stabilize the economy as part of the New Deal. Young men from all across the country joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and started construction all across the United States.
Before the actual work could begin on the park, these young men had to create the road that leads up the mountain by hand. In fact everything these teenagers did was done by hand. After three years of hard back-breaking work, the 2,799 acre park officially opened to the public in 1936.
For the next 80 years, Cheaha State Park has had the opportunity to be one of the most attractive tourist destinations in all of the United States. The reason people love Cheaha so much is for its high elevation point. Mt. Cheaha boasts the highest point above sea level in the State. The word “cheaha” is a Native American term that translates to ‘high point.” The high point is marked by a “x” inside the fire tower that overlooks the entire park.
People also love Cheaha for its ability to accommodate everyone. “This is a place all ages, and we want to and have the ability to accommodate everyone,” said Park Naturalist Mandy Pearson. “No age has more fun than any other.” A prime example of the park accommodating everyone is the Bald Rock Boardwalk. The boardwalk is accessible to everyone, including those who have a physical handicap. Right at .3 miles in length, the board walk is equipped with benches and covered areas which allow hikers and campers to rest and get out of rain and other weather conditions.
Why would the park go to such an extent to make sure everyone can get to the boardwalk? Simply because it leads to one of the most beautiful views the park has to offer. Upon arrival at the end point, visitors can see as far as Columbiana, which is just over a two-hour drive, and view the Taladega National Forest which surrounds Cheaha.
Visitors do not have to wait to get to the park for once in a lifetime scenery. The scenic bypass on Hwy. 281 leading to Mt. Cheaha offers views that will leave you stunned as well. Once the trek up 281 is over the park awaits to accommodate everything imaginable you would want to do. While the views are the main selling points of the park, there are more adventures available.
The park plays host to two museums: the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and the Indian Relic Museum. The museums give park visitors a chance to see how the park was built by the CCC, and honors the Native Americans that once called the area home.
Of course, Cheaha offers camping. Park organizers allow you to”rough it” if you are into that style of camping. But for those who do not like to sleep in a tent on the hard ground, there are alternative options. Cheaha offers primitive, semi-primitive, and modern campsites which are RV accessible. If camping is not your strong point, the park offers cabins and chalets, and has hotel lodging available. Pearson said the cabins and chalets built by members of the CCC give visitors a chance to rest, rejuvenate, and forget about their worries.
For those who may not want to rest, there are many activities the park offers. Hiking and back-packing on trails to the awesome views Cheaha has to offer are certainly among the many things to do, but the adventures do not stop there. Mountain biking, fishing, rappelling, rock climbing, kayaking, and geocaching are many things the park has to offer the more adventurous visitors.
Park employees say they would love for people to come and stay as long as they want, but it is also a place for a simple day trip. Pearson told SylacaugaNews.com many will come just for a Sunday lunch at the parks restaurant following church. She reiterated the park can offer anything anyone could ever want in an outdoor adventure.
Cheaha also hosts many events and gatherings. Pearson said it is not uncommon for the park to host weddings, family reunions, engagement parties and more. These events usually take place in the Bald Rock Lodge. The lodge is one of the main attractions for visitors and large groups because of its large kitchen, dining area, and lodging area up stairs.
Cheaha State Park is not just for those who love the outdoors and want to hike and camp. It truly does accommodate everyone with the amount of attractions it has to offer. If you have a spare weekend to take a field trip to Cheaha like SylacaugaNews.com did, take the opportunity and experience everything Cheaha has to offer.
Do you have an idea for the SylacaugaNews.com Field Trip Series? Let us know! Send us an e-mail at [email protected] and share what field trip destination you think should be featured on SylacaugaNews.com.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.