Cheaha State Park
Updated: May 25
Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge.
I would love to tell you I wanted a photo taken of me standing on the edge of this cliff at Bald Rock because of the spectacular views. I could even tell you that, on this particular day, I was feeling especially confident because of my clumsy skills having taken a vacation of their own. In reality, I wanted to look like a brave explorer. Also, if you stand with one knee bent and a hand on your hip, you are supposed to look thinner. It works, right?
Welcome to Cheaha State Park, Delta, Alabama. We visited the park in May 2020. A five-hour drive from the Gulf Coast was appealing since our trip to Shenandoah (13 hours) was canceled due to, well, 2020. The drive was uneventful if you do not count our dog, who went into a full panic attack when his head was buzzed by a giant, menacing flying beast or... just a fly. So, yes, dogs are allowed! The park even has a small dog park which is the only place your pooch is allowed off leash. After some white-knuckle driving on a road with no guardrail, we arrived safely at our booked chalet, which is one accommodation the park offers. There is also a campground, a lodge, cabin options and a hotel.
The Chalet has two bedrooms, a living room with a dining area and flat screen T.V., a fireplace, a small kitchen and one full bath. At first I was concerned because our porch was facing a small street and some other chalets. I wanted to have that feeling of being completely surrounded by nature. I soon found that the neighbors were quiet and the sounds of nature flooded our senses. There is a porch with a table and chairs. At the bottom of the stairs is a grill, firepit, more chairs and a picnic table.
Cheaha has a restaurant, but it was closed because of COVID. We took everything we needed to make our own meals. We kept our meal planning simple to reduce time in the kitchen and to take the least amount of supplies as possible.
Home to the highest point in Alabama, the park offers amazing views without a lot of hiking effort. The 0.6 mi trek to Bald Rock (shown in photo at top of page) is a boardwalk trail. Most wheelchairs and strollers should be able to make it to the lookout with no trouble. There is a path on either side of the boardwalk for those who wish to get more of a hiking feel. There are stairs at the end of the boardwalk for access onto the cliff's edge to grab a photo op. A word to the wise: watch your littles closely. There is a steep drop off at the edge of the cliff and children are safer staying on the boardwalk.
The shortest trail we hiked was the most difficult. The trail to Pulpit Rock was no simple task. At least it was not for me. At 0.3 miles, and the promise of the best views, I was excited to get to the end and capture some great family photos. Friends, let me tell you, it has some steep terrain. We are not parents who look for enormous challenges. I have arthritic knees and my husband has had his share of back surgeries. In our minds, we were still 20 years old. Our bodies begged to differ. This trail challenged my knees. I pushed on for those promised views and I was not disappointed. Again, there are more drop-off spots. I googled this exact location before we left and decided I was going to get that special adventurer photo of me sitting on Pulpit Rock, which jets out over the cliff. I got there with my wobbling legs and knees, who were in shock from having to walk up and downhill, that I feared a misstep.
That is Pulpit Rock there behind me. It looks like it would be so easy to hop on but the picture is a bit deceiving. The space between where I am standing and Pulpit Rock is an opening with rock which slants downward and off the cliff's edge. I saw others hopping up there and it was tempting, but thought better of it. Plus, my children were crying, "No, Mommy, no." So there was that. No regrets here. Again with the bent leg and hands on hips. I tell ya, it takes off 10 pounds.
The last trail we hiked was called The Leave No Trace Bigfoot Challenge Trail. It was 0.5 miles. There were several wooden Bigfoot cutouts along the trail which kids are meant to count. The trail was a campaign to teach hikers to take their trash with them to be disposed of properly. It was an easy trail will small inclines. The irony was the amount of trash littering the trail. The trail ended at Alabama's highest point at an elevation of 2407 feet. This is not considered high compared to other hiking spots in the country, but we live on the coast of Florida where most terrain is flat ground. We got to drive 5 hours and hike with Bigfoot to reach any kind of altitude.
There were many other trails in the park with varying levels of difficulty, some to waterfalls. If we return to Cheaha, we will definitely take different trails to see what we have missed.
This was our first visit to Cheaha State park. We had great family bonding time and loved the beautiful views. It was a peaceful 3 night escape away from what was going on in the world at the time. Best of all, it got us all back into nature. The only reason we would not return would be to see different state and national parks. With that said, Talladega National Forest is right next door to Cheaha. The only complaint we had about Cheaha was the amount of trash along the trails. It is possible the park may have cut back on employees at the time because of COVID, and did not have anyone to monitor the trails. If you are ever a guest in one of these parks, please dispose of trash accordingly. Have you ever been to Cheaha State Park? What was your favorite part? We'd love to hear from you.