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Mt. Cheaha Route

Intermediate
 4.7 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A great hike to the highest point in Alabama, full of views and interesting rock formations.


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Map Key

5.9

Miles

9.6

KM

Lollipop

2,396' 730 m

High

1,321' 403 m

Low

1,296' 395 m

Up

1,294' 394 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

46%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views

Family Friendly Kids will love exploring the trails and the summit tower, but the Lake Trail may be overwhelming. Simply start at the Pulpit Rock Parking Area to create an easier four-mile loop.

Overview

A climb to the highest point in Alabama that's perfect for the hiker who'd rather earn their summits instead of driving to the top. The Cheaha area is truly beautiful and the stone observation tower makes the sprawling Talladega Mountain views even better! This six-mile route starts with the park's most difficult trail before climbing the rest of the way up to the tower. On the way back down a quick detour to Pulpit Rock dishes up a final stunning vista before the last descent.

Need to Know

Entrance to the state park is $5 (ages 12+) or $2 (seniors and children 4-11).

Description

Begin at the Cheaha Lake Parking area and look for the Lake Trail at the edge of the trees. Things start out very gradually, but the grade steadily steepens as hikers climb away from the lake. By the halfway mark, you'll probably start to feel some burn in your legs as you continue to navigate up the steep and rocky terrain.

Don't despair, though, because this section is quite beautiful with trees, views, and outcroppings providing ample excuses to stop and take a break. Pretty soon you'll reach the top of the trail, where the grade immediately mellows. Keep straight through the parking area and turn right on the park road for an easy three-quarter mile cool-down that leads past the Cheaha State Park Hotel. Near the park entrance, look for the bottom of the Cheha Express on the left.

The Cheha Express was designed for mountain bikers, but hikers are also welcome on the pleasant rolling terrain that leads around the east side of the park. Just be prepared to yield to any two-wheeled traffic you encounter and share a smile with your fellow trail user. After a series of closely packed switchbacks near the top, look for the Express Connector that leads to a road.

Simply proceed across the intersection to arrive at the stone observation tower, where a stair-master inspired climb to the top provides a fantastic 360-degree view across the landscape. Once back on the ground, look for the top of the Leave No Trace Bigfoot Challenge Trail. This uniquely named interpretive trail displays plenty of Bigfoot cutouts and signs about stewardship while visiting nature.

At the bottom, turn right on the park road and continue past the Rock Garden Parking Area to reach the Pulpit Rock Trail. This short detour has a few steeper sections and the trail can be rough, but the views and photo-opp of the Lion King-style rock that proudly protrudes from the mountainside are more than worth it.

Head back to the road and make the immediate turn to the right. At the end of the parking area is the familiar top of the Lake Trail. Hikers may be tempted to rush down, but it's worth taking your time, both for safety and to enjoy the new perspective back down to the lake.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Ashley

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 10 votes

#773

Overall
  4.7 from 10 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
30%
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in Alabama

#773

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90 Views Last Month
7,482 Since Feb 10, 2017
Intermediate

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Photos

The view from Pulpit Rock is top notch, especially at sunset. | Copyright Curtis Fockele (https://goo.gl/YUZUSU) under CC BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) Photo was unchanged.
Jun 7, 2017 near Oxford, AL
Cheaha
Dec 2, 2017 near Oxford, AL
MT Laurel Tail, Cheaha
Sep 24, 2018 near Oxford, AL
Viewing tower; 62 steps to the top
Mar 14, 2019 near Oxford, AL
It ain't easy being green
Mar 14, 2019 near Oxford, AL
End of winter sunset
Mar 14, 2019 near Oxford, AL

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All Clear 89 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Oct 5, 2019
Brian Penn
Parked at Cheaha Lake, inside Gate — 15h 20m
May 25, 2019
Cameron Rentschler
6mi — 3h 00m
Apr 8, 2019
Peter Ventres
Only hiked the Yellow Trail. Nice with gradual switch backs. Beautiful overlooks. 2.5mi
Sep 23, 2018
Scott Childress
6mi — 2h 00m