Cheaha Mountain Trip Report
Drive Up, 11/12/08
My trip to Cheaha Mountain began a week earlier as I was pondering what to do during a pending trip to Atlanta for a conference. The conversation turned to Alabama for some reason, and while I hadn't even considered combining my trip with a highpointing excursion, the idea seemed to have merit. So, after attending the first day of the conference, I woke early, rented a car from the airport and began the 1.5 hour drive to the top of Alabama.
I was immediately inspired by the color of the leaves. Since moving to Texas, I haven't had the chance to observe good fall leaf color, and even though it was past peak season, the leaves were still quite pretty. The drive itself was straight forward. Finding the mountain is pretty easy, mainly due to the large number of signs and other markers along the way. Cheah Mountain is located in Cheaha state park, and even from the interstate, the signage to the park is quite good. After leaving the interstate, the drive through the woods was pleasant, with not a soul to be seen upon turning onto the Cheaha Mountain Scenic Byway. The weather was overcast and grey, but the temperatures weren't too cold. I could see the mountain from a distance away, and the clouds racing by above it.
I hadn't considered the effect of changing timezones, and hoped that the park would be open when I got there. Different sources stated the opening time as 7am or 8am local time, but arriving just after 7am, I found the gate open, so I drove right in. The summit, complete with a CCC-era observation tower, was a short drive into the park. As I got out of my car, I was surprised at how cold, and windy it was, and quickly made my way to the observation tower to get out of the weather. The visibility was a bit limited, but still existent, and the fall colors made the sight impressive.
The natural highpoint appears to be a bolder behind the building, so I took a few more pictures, listened to the radio tower guy wires whistling in the wind, and quickly made my way back to my car. Although the weather wasn't inviting today, the picnic tables and playground seem to me that a fair-weather visit to Cheaha Mountain would actually be pretty good place to visit, with good vistas available in every direction.
I left in the direction I came, made it back to the conference in time for the second session, and marked another highpoint off the State Highpoints list, but one which I wouldn't mind visiting again.