Alabama: Cheaha Mountain (2,407 feet)
Day 1 of our six highpoint adventure began with Florida and ended with Alabama. Alabama’s highpoint did not disappoint. A stone tower that conjures an immediate Game of Thrones era connection offers a nice view of the surrounding area after several flights of stairs.
According to Don Holmes’ Highpoints of the United States: A Guide to the Fifty State Summits, the actual highpoint is a boulder behind the tower. To anyone attempting to take on highpointing as a goal, I highly recommend this book. Some of the frustrations Jill and I experienced in Maryland and Pennsylvania would have been avoided if we’d made this investment sooner. Holmes identifies directions to the HP, the location of the USGS marker (if one exists), and talks you through any potential red tape. The amount of time saved with this book makes it worth every penny.
Alabama also has a gift shop with knowledgeable and friendly staff as well as free maps of hiking trails (oh, and bathrooms!). To give a little movement to day 1 of road tripping, we decided enough daylight remained for us to go in search of one of Cheaha State Park’s waterfalls before wrapping up the night in Birmingham. A couple of miles on the trail made a world of difference in rejuvenating us, plus the waterfalls were worth the effort. It’s hard to pick my favorite HP in this trip, but Alabama definitely ranks at the top. Admittedly, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. While it’s possible the tower influenced a large portion of my overall experience, the additional waterfall hike and gift shop helped differentiate this highpoint, earning it a favorable status.
After summiting Cheaha Mountain, we made our way to Birmingham for the night. At check in, the hotel front desk representative informed us that Alabama is the fattest state in the country. He boasted about this, seemingly proud, as if this were a testament to how delicious their food is. Not sure the hotel guy’s info was fully accurate as US News and World Report identifies Mississippi as the fattest, followed by Alabama as #2. Either way, I can’t argue that the food in Alabama was delicious. I have Alabama’s Gouda grits and fried green tomatoes to thank for contributing to the two extra pounds I put on during this trip. Worth every ounce.
Alabama isn’t one of the better known spring break locations, but we went this year because we hadn’t yet been to Cheaha Mountain. While the highpoint isn’t exactly high altitude, we stayed in one of the park’s cabins for two days and had a great time. The cabins were clean, well furnished, and each one came with a fire pit. Plus there were hiking trails right outside our door.
The kids really enjoyed the highpoint itself. They liked the tower, and really liked the humongous bench swing in the parking lot. From the highpoint we followed the Bigfoot Interpretive Trail, and the kids had fun pointing out the wooden Bigfoot cut outs along the way. (There was a museum at the highpoint, but unfortunately it was closed when we were there.)
If you’ve never seen a Cheaha Mountain sunset you haven’t seen a sunset. Sitting in back of our cabin, watching amazing sunsets while making s’mores was pretty much a dream vacation for all of us. We could have stayed another week, and never gotten bored. In fact, we’re thinking about possibly going back next year.
While in the area we also visited The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site , the Capitol Building in Montgomery , and Roosevelt’s Little White House . As a side note, we were told there are no ice cream parlors in downtown Montgomery. Anyone looking for a business venture within driving distance of several southern highpoints might want to start there.