Mt. Cheaha Route
ElevationAscent: 1,296' 395 m
Descent: -1,294' -394 m
High: 2,396' 730 m
Low: 1,321' 403 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 46% (25°)
“A great run to the highest point in Alabama, full of views and interesting rock formations.”— Eric Ashley
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 runners 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. Runners 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.
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Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: Alabama State Parks - Cheaha State Park