Last week after our wonderful LaMar’s visit, followed by my harrowing hell chase after Chorizo we decided to get lunch and go to Cheaha State Park to take pictures.
We were going to take it with us and have a picnic in the park but I hadn’t eaten all day and I was starving and after the marathon with Chorizo I wasn’t in that great of a mood either. OK… I was in a heck of a rotten mood and I was emotional and exhausted. We stopped at MacAllisters to get a sandwich and decided since they had an outdoor patio area that we’d just eat there before we went to the park. I even acquiesced and got Chorizo a kid’s sandwich (which he gobbled down). He was in doggie heaven. He got to be the center of attention of everyone walking by the patio AND he got his own sandwich!
After filling our bellies and brightening my mood we headed to Cheaha State Park and Talledega National Forest. You kind of wind your way in and out of the State Park while going through the forest or vice versa. I just know I kept seeing signs that I was entering one or the other all day! Even though it was past peak season for the leaves it was still beautiful.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Cheaha:
“Cheaha State Park is a 2,799-acre (11.33 km2) state park in Alabama, located in northern Clay and southwestern Cleburne counties. Park facilities include a lodge, restaurant, general store, campsites, hiking trails (the Pinhoti Trail system weaves its way through the Talladega National Forest to Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama.), and other amenities. It is Alabama’s oldest continuously operating state park.
The park was first opened to the public in 1933, after the state acquired the property. Although it was open, the first six years saw a joint effort by the state and the National Park System that allowed for construction by the Civilian Conservation Corps of Cheaha Lake and its stone bath house, eleven stone cabins, two stone pavilions, Bunker Tower, and the Bald Rock Group Lodge. This first phase of construction was completed in 1939. A new hotel, restaurant, and five chalets were added in 1973. These facilities were restored and renovated in 1997.
Cheaha features a variety of campsites. It has 73 modern campsites that include water, electric, sewer hookup, a picnic table, grill, and bathhouses. It has 11 semi-primitive campsites with picnic tables, grills, and a bathhouse. The park includes day-use areas for picnicking, fishing, and hunting. Cheaha Lodge has 30 hotel rooms with a swimming pool. The stone Bald Rock Group Lodge is used for conferences and weddings.
The highest point within the park is marked with Bunker Tower, a stone building with an observation deck on top. Near the peak is Bald Rock, which was recently improved with a wheelchair-accessible wooden walkway that provides an overlook of the surrounding region.”
We first stopped at the stone bathhouse and lake. It is a gorgeous area. The water level did look like it was a little low and I noticed when I went in to go to the bathroom that they had a sign posted saying to please conserve water due to the drought or they would have to close the facilities and pool. I never saw a pool there but we did see the lake.
The picnic area/bathhouses are surrounded by a rock wall separating that area from the parking lot and at one point when we were walking back to the car Chorizo (still on his retractable leash) walked right over the wall and disappeared from sight! It was about a three or four foot drop. Scared the crap out of me because unlike cats, dogs do not land on their feet. I heard a thud (Hubby was in charge of the leash at that point) and turned around to ask hubby what it was to see his eyes bulging and the leash leading over the wall! I ran to the steps and by the time I got over there he was standing up wagging his tail so I suppose he was fine. I did tell hubby after that though to keep his leash retracted so he couldn’t get more than a couple of feet so we could grab him if he got any more slightly less than bright ideas. I also implored him NOT to get close to the edge of anything!
It’s a pretty neat area because even though it’s State Park and National Forest there are little pockets of areas where people live. You’ll be riding along in woods and all of a sudden there’ll be a little house. I’m sure in the winter time it’s hard to navigate up there.
After we left the lake/bathhouse area was when we came to what I call the “rock forest”. On both sides of the road there are lots of trees but there are also tons of rock (literally). Huge boulders and various sized rock out croppings are everywhere.
The coolest one I saw was a tree that was growing right on top of a boulder. It’s not like there was a ton of dirt with the rock sticking out either. It was a rock with a tree growing on top! I don’t know how it stayed upright! The roots grew along the top of the rock and over the edges down to the ground on both sides. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. I was fascinated by it. If it hadn’t been so cold I’d have probably stayed there a lot longer examining it.
We left that area and drove to the top of the mountain and decided to drive into the lodge area.
Hubby was going to pull into the lodge area and I insisted he keep driving and I’m glad we did. Neither of us knew about Bunker Tower. We kind of happened on it by mistake or default. Every time we got to a fork in the road I kept telling hubby to turn to the way that looked like it was still going up the mountain. It was a one way road and hubby was really concerned about how we’d get back down since we were almost at the peak but I assured him that if it was one way up there also had to be a way down, there’s no way you’d just end up at the top with no way down!
Around the curve we saw Bunker Tower with it’s signs stating it was the highest point in Alabama and of course I just had to climb to the top of the tower to take pictures, but, this post is not allowing me to upload any more pictures so I will have to continue on our journey tomorrow. So get a good night’s sleep and I’ll see you tomorrow for a view from the top!