Talladega National Forest weekend trip.

We didn’t quite plan to spend the weekend in the woods, but we were quasi-prepared for the camping bug to bite… Which it did.

We decided to drive the Talladega Scenic Byway from Trussville, and our first stretch-the-legs stop was at Horseblock Mountain (pictured to the right). The byway climbs up Horseblock Mountain before descending and climbing Mount Cheaha, home to the highest peak in Alabama and Cheaha State Park.

Our campsite at Cheaha could not have been better- we had a view of the entire valley below, combined with a simultaneous sunset on one side and moon rise on the other. After the sun and moon finished fighting over the sky, Patrick made a big, beautiful fire to keep us warm, since we hadn’t quite planned on the freezing temperatures. (Thank God for the kindness of strangers, specifically, the kindness of a park ranger named “Frog” who brought a ton of free, long-burning firewood to our campsite during the moon-sun feud.)

Some of that warm beer they were selling for outlandish prices in the Cheaha State Park camp store might have taken the edge off the cold, but we settled for powdered coffee after reading Fine Feathered Friends to Max until he fell asleep.

Photo: Max’s puppy, Pongo, surveys the scenery.

The next morning, we were ready to hit the trails. For those who did not know this, Max LOVES hiking trails. He especially loves to be “the leader”. Thanks to training from Patrick on how to “sniff out trails”, Max is an awesome trail leader, and I enjoy just waddling behind the gentlemen at my own lazy pace. The trails at Cheaha were brief but brimming with nature’s ornaments; each trail ended in a scenic overlook. We started with the wheelchair-accessible Bald Rock Trail (near our semi-primitive campsite on the Picnic Trail), and took the “natural trail” to the overlook and then returned on the wooden walkway.

We then meandered over to the Rock Garden Trail, which meets up with the most difficult trail on Cheaha, the Lake Trail. The Rock Garden Trail, which begins right behind the park cabins, introduced us to trees that grow out of rocks. The poor trees of Cheaha have discovered many ways to adapt to the harsh climate and winds of the altitude. Now I’m rambling, so I’ll cut it short and just spout off a few more enchanting things we encountered on our weekend excursion:

  • The bestest, softest, fluffiest pancakes of the melt-in-your-mouth variety at Beverly’s Country Kitchen somewhere along (or just off of) the Talladega Scenic Byway
  • Cool cool “sladders”- stairways/ladders- at High Falls
  • Strawberry milkshakes with real strawberries at Quick Time in Lineville
  • Turnipseed Campground’s honor system
  • Bark makes a great firestarter

You can see more photos from our trip in the photo albums on the right sidebar. But you should see Talladega for yourself. Really.

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