Friday, January 24, 2014

Cheaha Mountain - Alabama High Point

When we were in West Virginia last year we were confused as to the mountains we were in. Were we in the Appalachians, the Alleghenys, or the Blue Ridge? After a brief look I'm still confused, but the picture is clearer. The Appalachian Mountain Range, in its broadest sense, is the mother range that extends from Newfoundland, in southeastern Canada, 1,500 miles southwest to central Alabama. The term includes the surrounding hills and plateau regions. Then within the mother Appalachian range there are sub-ranges with their own names, including, among others, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, which include the Great Smoky Mountains. In this context, the name of the Appalachian Trail, which goes from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, makes sense.  

This leads me to my topic. At the southern end of the mother Appalachians are the Talladega Mountains, which are also considered part of the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains (I had no idea the Blue Ridge Mountains were so extensive). The high point in Alabama, at 2,413 feet, is Cheaha Mountain, part of the Talladegas, about 58 miles east of Birmingham (as the crow flies), 75 miles northeast of Montgomery and 95 miles southwest of Atlanta.

We drove to Cheaha from Atlanta. Cheaha is about 17 miles off the I-20, about 12 miles of which was a fairly straight line along a forested ridge that gradually increased in elevation. Although the day was sunny and the temperatures were in the 50s, previous cold was evidenced along the way by an impressive collection of icicles along a section of the road. And although Cheaha is not real high, it seems higher than it is because it is raised above the surrounding terrain quite substantially.
Roadside icicles.
Lighting is poor, but you get a sense of the isolation of Cheaha Mountain which is in the center, the third peak left from the right.
From the same vantage point as the picture above, looking back in the direction of the freeway.
The summit is part of Cheaha State Park, which encompasses a fairly small area on the upper portion of the mountain and has hiking trails, camping spots, a lodge, a store and a restaurant. Bunker Tower, a stone building with an observation deck, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, sits on top. The tower itself was accessible and after negotiating some steep, winding stairs, we were rewarded with nice views of the surrounding countryside. The brass USGS benchmark is a few yards in front of Bunker Tower. It refers to Cheaha as "Cheehahaw." Entrance to the park requires a small fee, but they waived it for us when we said we were just going to spend a few minutes at the top.
Bunker Tower
Judy at the high point sign.
Judy at the Bunker Tower observation deck.
The USGS benchmark.
A stone bump near the summit.
People do go to Cheaha Mountain when they want to get out and enjoy nature and the store had warning signs about feeding bears and deer. 

1 comment:

  1. Fun place worth the detour. It would be beautiful when the trees have their fall foliage. I would, however, avoid the place during spring's pollen season--the name sounds too much like a sneeze.