Cheaha Mountain, often called Mount Cheaha, is the highest point in Alabama,
2,407 feet high and
is located a few miles north-west of Delta in scenic
Cheaha State Park.
The highest point is marked with a USGS marker in front of Bunker Tower, a stone Civilian Conservation Corps 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 impressive overlook of the surrounding region. The entire area gives an impression of being at a much higher elevation than it actually is, in part because of the relatively low elevation of the adjacent area to the area to the west.
Cheaha Mountain is part of the Talladega Mountains, a final southern segment of the Blue Ridge unlike other elevations of the Appalachians in north Alabama, which are part of the Cumberland Plateau.
The mountain is a host to several commercial and public service transmitters. These transmitters, along with sundry structures dating back to commercial schemes by the State of Alabama in the Seventies, stand in stark contrast to the surrounding natural environment. The Calhoun County Amateur Radio Association has a repeater near the peak and Alabama Public Television has its transmitter for WCIQ TV (and digital DTV 52), a tower 176 meters tall. This mountain is also known to hold the location of the Summer Camp known as Camp Mac.
I remember getting up at 5am many mornings, when I was in the 9th grade, to watch Civil War documentaries being transmitted by this TV station. It was around the time of the Civil War Centennial (1961) and one our school projects was to put together a folder of Civil War information. It was a great project since I have always been interested in history.
The Cheaha State Park was first opened to the public in 1933, after the state acquired the property for the 2,799-acre park. 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 now 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. In addition there are primitive campsites near Cheaha Lake. 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.
Five hiking trails, totaling seven miles in length, reveal a diversity of wildlife and panoramic views. There's also a 10-mile (and growing) mountain bike trail, and the park is the halfway point in a 110-mile touring bike race held every May.
Additional trails wind through the surrounding Talladega National Forest, including the Kentuck ORV trail, an ATV trail built and maintained by the National Forest Service.
A six-acre lake supports fishing, swimming and paddle boating. Canoes and other non-powered, hand-carried boats are welcome.
One of my fondest memories is going to Cheaha with my friend, Wayne, and his family. We spend the day tubing and just hanging out. Unfortunately, I was not much at using sun screen as a kid and by the time I got home I was "crispy fried."