Editor's note: This post is part of the Eighth Day Escape adventure series and contest by Parks Explorer. Throughout this year, Parks Explorer will share trip ideas, staff stories, activity suggestions, and much more from each Alabama State Park. These monthly posts will be personal accounts of traveling Park Naturalist Emily Vanderford, where she details her park adventures and experiences in the unique natural areas across the state. While reading about park adventures is not nearly as meaningful as experiencing them first-hand, Parks Explorer wants you to know just how many opportunities there are for you to enjoy Alabama the beautiful.

The Eighth Day Escape Contest began January 8, 2016 and will conclude January 8, 2017. Monthly winners will be randomly selected each month and the grand prize winner will be drawn January 8, 2017. Click here for contest entry forms and more information. Be sure to enjoy previous monthly adventures also: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay (Part I),May (Part II)JuneJulyAugust (Part I)August (Part II)SeptemberOctober, November (Part I)


In addition to going to Blue Springs State Park, I was also able to spend time at Cheaha State Park as part of November’s Eighth Day Escape. Cheaha hosts the annual Bigfoot Biobash Conservation Festival and Trail Run each November, so it was the perfect weekend to escape to the highest point in Alabama. Because Cheaha is located adjacent to the Talladega National Forest, it is a gateway to miles and miles of trail resources in addition to the already great trails within the park. During my recent visit, I asked Park Naturalist Mandy Pearson to point out some of the trail highlights in the park.

  

Since Cheaha State Park is home to the highest point in Alabama, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the newest trail at the park, the Leave No Trace Bigfoot Trail, which leads you from the Cheaha lodge to Bunker Tower and the highest point in the state. The trail is only about half of a mile and features educational signage about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.

From the Cheaha Trailhead, located just off Highway 281 with a parking area, Cheaha hikers can access some great trails which take users through portions of the Talladega National Forest and Cheaha State Park. One trip that’s a favorite by many is the one to McDill Point by way of the Cave Creek Trail and Pinhoti Connector. This article from Outbound gives an overview of the trip.

   

In addition to being accessed from the Cheaha Trailhead, the Pinhoti Trail can also be accessed from the Bald Rock Boardwalk trail from within Cheaha State Park. If you are aspiring to take on the Appalachian Trail in the future, consider staying in the hotel, chaletscabins, or one of the campgrounds (improved, semi-primitive, primitive) at Cheaha State Park and getting your feet wet by taking on portions of the Pinhoti one weekend. As always, be sure to take plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing and footwear anytime you decide to take on a new hiking trail. 

In addition to hiking, Cheaha State Park offers opportunities for rapelling and rock climbing, mountain biking, and much more. The park is also the perfect place for your next group retreat, meeting, or special event. The Bald Rock Group Lodge, built by the CCC, can meet all of your group's needs all while in a setting perfect for enjoying the great outdoors.

 

Suggestions for your next trip to Cheaha State Park:

 

 

Go Explore!

 

Monday, November 28, 2016