Alabama Scenic Drive: Talladega Scenic Drive

Catch a bird's-eye view of Alabama when you drive the Talladega Scenic Drive. At its highest point, you will find yourself on Cheaha Mountain, 2,407 feet above sea level, the highest point in Alabama. You will be awestruck by the view of the Appalachian Mountains, rock outcroppings, and small rural settlements nestled among the trees. Here, the air is crisp and clean, although during the summer months you may notice a bluish haze in the air. No need to worry; the haze is simply caused by the lush green trees releasing condensation into the warm air.

In addition to simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the Talladega National Forest, be sure to take advantage of its abundant recreational opportunities. You will find many developed areas where you can camp, picnic, fish, and hike. If you're up to an all-day adventure, spend some time in the Cheaha Wilderness or on the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail. The wilderness areas are open to hunting, fishing, and primitive camping. Peace and quiet abound here, as motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited.

No trip is complete without a fine meal and a souvenir, so be sure to visit the restaurants and shops at the top of Cheaha Mountain in Cheaha State Park. While you're at the top, keep a close eye out for wildlife such as white-tailed deer, quail, turkeys, rabbits, opossum, and even bald eagles. A glimpse of one of these natural inhabitants could be one of the highlights of your trip on the Talladega Scenic Drive.

Recreational Qualities of Talladega Scenic Drive

The Talladega Scenic Drive provides one of the primary recreational driving routes in Alabama, as well as the access route to Cheaha State Park. Running through the heart of Cheaha State Park, which is located on the highest mountain in the state of Alabama, the byway provides numerous recreational opportunities. Amenities at Cheaha State Park include rental cabins and chalets, a lodge, a restaurant, a camp store, developed and primitive campsites, picnic facilities, trails, and a lake for fishing and swimming.

View Enlarged Image This map of Talladega Scenic Drive follows a path through the stunning vistas of Talladega National Forest. View Enlarged Image This map of Talladega Scenic Drive follows a path through the stunning vistas of Talladega National Forest.
View Enlarged Image This map of Talladega Scenic Drive follows a path through the stunning vistas of Talladega National Forest.

Most mileage of the Talladega Scenic Drive is located in the Talladega National Forest. The Talladega National Forest offers numerous recreational experiences, including the Pinhoti National Recreational Trail, which intersects with the scenic drive in several locations. Other National Forest recreational experiences available near the scenic drive include hunting, fishing, nature study, photography, and numerous other activities. Lake Chinabee offers camping, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and boating opportunities as well.

The Talladega Scenic Drive does not provide lanes designated for bicycle use, but it is not uncommon to find road bicyclists challenging the steep slopes found on the drive. To avoid heavy automobile traffic, most of these bicyclists use the scenic drive on weekdays.

Find more useful information related to Alabama's Selma to Montgomery Byway:

  • Alabama Scenic Drives: The Selma to Montgomery Byway is just one of the scenic byways in Alabama. Check out the others.
  • Sylacauga, Talladega, Oxford: Find out what there is to do in these cities along the Talladega Scenic Drive.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Alabama? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.

Highlights of the Talladega Scenic Drive

The Talladgea Scenic Drive winds through the picturesque Talladega National Forest and climbs Alabama's highest peak, Cheaha Mountain.
The Talladgea Scenic Drive winds through the picturesque Talladega National Forest and climbs Alabama's highest peak, Cheaha Mountain.

The Talladega Scenic Drive is located along the southernmost stretches of the Appalachian Mountains and features the elevation necessary for expansive panoramic views not accessible over most of Alabama. The drive winds along the upper reaches of the Horseblock and Talladega Mountains, and offers views of Alabama's highest peak, Cheaha Mountain.

Views along the drive vary according to seasons, with the fall season being the most popular. The drive covers one of the primary areas in Alabama for viewing fall foliage. During the spring months, the drive offers a variety of flowering trees, such as dogwoods and redbuds, as well as numerous wildflowers along the roadway. Even the winter and summer months have much to offer as the visitor is treated to views of the surrounding countryside below the drive or the watersheds and hillsides of opposite ridges.

The drive offers six overlooks where visitors may park and take in extended views of the surrounding area. These overlooks are spaced north to south along the drive, as well as on opposite sides of the road.

The southern end of the drive passes adjacent to the western boundary of the Cheaha Wilderness. This section of the drive provides the visitor a view of natural, undeveloped landscape in Alabama. Since the Cheaha is a designated wilderness, this area will remain undeveloped and will be affected primarily by the forces of nature.

While the Talladega Scenic Drive has some splendid natural areas to explore, this itinerary offers travelers a mix of urban and rustic, modern speed and slower tempos.

Talladega: Begin in the city of Talladega, known for its NASCAR raceway. The Davey Allison Memorial/Walk of Fame is a beautiful landscaped park that covers an entire block in downtown. Honoring NASCAR driver Davey Allison and other heroes of the track, the park is shaped like Talladega Superspeedway and includes a brick walkway and bronze plaques honoring drivers.

Talladega Superspeedway: Records for both speed and competition have been established at Talladega Superspeedway, north of the city of Talladega. With track speeds in excess of 200 mph, it is the largest and fastest closed track in the world. The racing facility can accommodate more than 143,000 seated guests and thousands more in the 212-acre infield. The track has van tours for visitors daily during working hours except on weeks around events. The nearby International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is also open daily.

Anniston: From the Talladega Superspeedway, travel east on Interstate 20 to the Oxford exit. Moments north on U.S. Highway 431, the city of Anniston includes such sites as the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum of World History, both located in Lagarde Park in Anniston. The historic downtown area has intriguing architecture as well as superb dining opportunities.

Talladega National Forest: For a more serene version of this part of Alabama, head south on U.S. Highway 431 south, where you will enter the Talladega National Forest. Turn south on State Road 281 to begin your trek on the Talladega Scenic Drive. The magnificent scenery visible from your car, scenic overlooks, and hiking trails give vistas of the southern backbone of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cheaha State Park: Within the quiet appeal of the Talladega National Forest, one of the highlights is Cheaha State Park, named for Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in the state. Overlooks give panoramic vistas and trails give hikers an opportunity for up-close observation of the profusion of native flora and fauna. More than just a wilderness area with breathtaking views, you will also find 73 campsites, and at the top of the mountain an old-fashioned stone lodge, stone cabins, and comfortable hotel rooms. Also choose from picnic areas, the resort dining room, or banquet facilities. There is no better place to be on the Talladega Scenic Drive than at this mountaintop vantage point for a breathtaking view of the sunset.

Whether your tastes run to watching majestic birds or cheering on supercharged stock cars, there are sights galore to be found along Alabama's Talladega Scenic Drive.

Find more useful information related to Alabama's Selma to Montgomery Byway:

  • Alabama Scenic Drives: The Selma to Montgomery Byway is just one of the scenic byways in Alabama. Check out the others.
  • Sylacauga, Talladega, Oxford: Find out what there is to do in these cities along the Talladega Scenic Drive.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Alabama? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.