Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Best Autumn Drives #4 - Cheaha State Park Loop, Alabama

View from Cheaha State Park Restaurant
Alabama's highest point is a spectacular destination year round, but the top of Cheaha Mountain (or Mt. Cheaha as it is commonly known) turns into a stunning wonderland of color during the annual fall leaf change.
Bunker Loop is a paved drive that takes visitors around the top of the mountain. Beginning at the park entrance on Highway 281 (Talladega Scenic Drive), it winds its way around the main plateau atop the mountain and offers beautiful scenery and numerous points of interest.

Bald Rock Overlook
Among the stops of note along the loop is Bunker Tower, a beautiful stone structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) back in the 1930s that rises high into the clear mountain air from the peak of Alabama's tallest point. From the top visitors can take in a remarkable 360 degree view of Cheaha and the surrounding Talladega National Forest.

Just up the loop from the tower is the parking area for the Doug Ghee Accessible Trail to Bald Rock. A very nice boardwalk is accessible for visitors of all abilities, the trail leads to an overlook atop Bald Rock on the edge of the mountain. The view is stunning and in the fall an array of color stretches for as far as the eye can see.

Also accessible off the loop is the trail to Pulpit Rock. A rugged walk through rock fields and down a steep slope, the trail ends at a stunning rock that juts out from the side of the mountain.

Cheaha State Park also offers a wide array of amenities, ranging from a hotel to cabins and campgrounds to a mountaintop restaurant with perhaps the best view of any place to eat in Alabama.

To learn more about the park, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/cheaha1.

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