Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cheaha State Park, Alabama

Well, we’re back from out trip down south, back at work and back to the sub zero temps of Chicagoland. Now it’s time to reflect. Even though I already posted about camping at the Cheaha State Park and riding in the Talladega National Forest, I feel that more needs to be said since it was really the highlight of our trip.

Cheaha State Park (red arrow) is located in the Talladega National Forest

With this post I’d like to give you more information about the park and give you a detailed tour of the primitive campsite where we camped. The Primitive camp site is such an amazing place to camp, especially if you are there to ride the many forest roads on your dual sport.

The primitive campground holds so much natural beauty

The highest point in Alabama is located at the Cheaha State Park. The Cheaha Mountain raises 2,407 feet above sea level. These are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. 281 is a twisty road that travels this area. The road drops about 1,200 vertical feet from the top of Cheaha Mountain to Cheaha Lake. It’s a good and twisty ride, with many nice views.

The twisty 281

Cheaha Road

According to the Cheaha State park website, there are 5 campgrounds here. The Mountain Top Campground with full hook-ups, this is the main campground. There are also cabins there, a hotel and a restaurant, all belonging to the Cheaha State Park.

Cheaha Lake's mirror like reflection

The Cheaha Lake campground is 3 miles down the mountain and also has full hookups. Then there are two semi-primitive camp sites for tents on the mountain, one is the Picnic Trail campground and the other is the Bunker Loop Campground. Those staying there can utilize the facilities at the Mountain Top Campground. Lastly, there is a primitive campsite also near the Cheaha Lake. This campground has no bathrooms or water, but one can drive a short distance and use the facilities at the Cheaha Lake Campground.

Cheaha State Park Registration office and store

The Mountain Top area has a gate, and the fee was $1 to enter the recreation day area. Located beyond the gate is a restaurant, cabins, motel and the campgrounds. Before you get to the gate, on 281 is the registration office and store. This is truly a resort state park, with all the amenities. We drove the recreational day area at night, so we just saw the numerous buildings, all were very nice.

Primitive campground entrance

Cheaha State Park is Alabama's oldest and continuously operating State Park, which opened in 1939. In its early years, the state park had stone cabins, a stone bath house, stone pavilions and the man made Cheaha Lake. The lake still exists today. The stone buildings, what remains of them today, are in ruins. You can see some of the ruins at the primitive campsite where we stayed.

Ruins at the primitive campground

I wonder what there used to be

They look like graves

In the 1970’s the hotel, restaurant and chalets were built. Renovations continue periodically, and today high-speed internet service is available at the restaurant and hotel.

A room with a view

A cozy living room with a fireplace

For $11 per day, we stayed at the primitive camp site. Since we had stayed at others parks for $12, and those were full service camp sites, the $11 seemed steep. But when you consider the setting of the campground, and the views, it’s actually a small price to pay to be able to enjoy such beauty. Of course, at the end of December we were alone at the campground, which made it even more appealing to us.

So many dirt roads at the primitive campground

After we were done riding for the day and we returned to the campground, I was compelled to ride through the entire campground, wanting to see where all the paths would take me.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog! It has made my decision to go to cheaha!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the great pictures. You really took some time putting this together. I've eaten at the restaurant and the food was great.

Anonymous said...

Cheaha is my home. I spent many summers with my family there. Now I have family that runs the park. Its nice to find pics of some of the places I've wandered. Thanks for a glimpse of home. There are crystal clear ponds and falls tucked away in those foothills as well.

Anonymous said...

I only live 20 minutes south of 281 and ride up there as often as possible. Today makes the 2nd day this week I've rode up there 100+ miles and enjoyed every mile of it. Especially HWY 49 from Lineville up to the top of the Mtn. nice country scenery and great curvy roads. Beautiful ride anytime of year and worth the trip from anywhere to see the mtn views. Not much traffic this time of year and you can really see w/o the leaves on the trees, temps in the low 50's during the days. But be careful on the Talledega side they are doing some work on 281 and it has lose stone on the road. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

great pictures - planning a camping trip there soon and your pictures confirmed its the right place for me to be. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Been to Alaska,Colorado and around....Back in Tuscaloosa "ROLL TIDE" I forgot about Talledega Ntl Forest and Cheaha. Planning on going there tomorrow for 2 days. Have a few hidy (sp) holes there. Wanna improve my campsite that I have not been to in 4 years. Will give accurate description and pics along with video to the premium campsite. Shhhhhhhhhhh........don't tell anyone unless they plan on improving the site. It's the best.