Cycling Calhoun County Alabama offers you a chance to explore the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on miles of scenic bike trails. Nestled in the I-20 corridor between Atlanta and Birmingham, it's a perfect destination for a romantic bike getaway weekend for most anyone in the south.
We came for a ride on the Chief Ladiga Trail, rolling through towns with nicknames like "Gem of the Hills" and traversing the depths of the Talladega National Forest. We felt the fusion between small-town charm, southern hospitality, and natural beauty. Keep reading to see the 3-day/2-night itinerary that introduced us to the area's rich culture, unique and comfortable lodging, and delicious culinary offerings, and of course, world-class biking.
SHARING SUNSET ON MT. CHEAHA. Technically, Mt Cheaha is in Cleburne County, but Anniston is most certainly the gateway to Cheaha over neighboring Heflin. It's a 30-40 minute drive from either city, but Heflin has a population under 4,000' and Anniston has a population over 20K. We choose to come in from Anniston because there were more restaurants and accommodations for the same length drive.
Mt Cheaha is the highpoint of Alabama at 2413' where you'll find a beautiful state park loaded with wonderful hiking that worthy of a full weekend of exploration in and of itself. However, we were only stopping in for sunset before our weekend of cycling.
Once we were in, we choose between the two highest-rated, short hikes in the Cheaha State Park- Pulpit Rock and Bald Rock. They are both .6 mile, out-and-backs (.3 miles each way), but we choose Bald Rock because of the boardwalk, so it was easy to hike out at twilight. Of course, you could always come a little early and do both.
EUBANKS NORTH TO THE GEORGIA LINE ON THE CHIEF LADIGA TRAIL. For the first couple of miles, we just felt the joy of motion and finally being on the trail. We rolled by small farms with their cotton ripe and ready for fall harvest but soon left civilization behind and entered the Talladega National Forest.
There’s something special about riding bike trails or entering the deep forest at any time. However, cycling on the trail through the forest was nothing short of magical. The rain never fully stopped but instead turned into a misty twilight that filled the valleys and settled low into the streams. A few times, magnificent bucks wandered out of the fog and onto the trail, only to disappear again into the hazy woods.
CYCLING THROUGH THE TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST. Riding through the National Forest was the sort of ride where all of your senses come alive. The mists felt like some unseen hand draped a cool blanket over the countryside, but it filled our lungs with the most unusual smells. We couldn’t quite put a finger on it, like a cross between apple cobbler and pine boughs. It felt warm and homey, despite being in the depths of a chilly fall forest. The trees were a mix of pines, oaks, and maples. In particular, the maples blazed orange and red in their fall colors, like a fog light shining in the distance.