Cheaha (meaning "high place" in the Creek Indian language) is located in the Talladega National Forest. It is, at only a little over 2,400 feet, the highest point in Alabama. Sitting atop the mountain is a campground, hotel and a state operated convenience store. Nevertheless, there is still good climbing with some excellent views to be found here. There is a broad range of difficulty and convenient toproping.
A topgraphic map of the area:
From Birmingham, go east on I-20 (go west on I-20 if coming from Atlanta) to the Highway 431 exit. There will be a sign for Cheaha State Park. Follow the signs through several easy to follow turns. After several miles, the road will run into the park entrance with a sign announcing the elevation of the mountain. Take the next right and go to the gate. The hotel and convenience store are both located here. After going through the gate, follow the loop until you reach the second set of cabins on your right. Park at the end of this short road in the parking area. Follow the short trail to the top of the climbing area known as the The Rock Garden. This is the main climbing area for Cheaha Mountain. Rappel to the base of the climbs or take a small connecting trail on your right. The routes are very hard to miss.
Other areas to climb include Pulpit Rock. Simply follow the Pulpit Rock trail down a gully to the base of the climb. There are some good crack climbs here.
The Bald Rock climbing area offers mostly bouldering, but has some very good toproping also. Follow the Bald Rock Trail past the overlook, then head down the hill to the climbing area.
A permit must be obtained before climbing. You can get one from the exceeding friendly Park Rangers in the state operated convenience store. There is a small fee for overnight camping. No bolting is allowed. Be sure to ask the Ranger to give you the gate PIN # so you can get through it.
When To Climb
Climbing is good year-round. Be careful of the poison ivy and snakes during warmer months since both are especially plentiful in this area.
If you are going to climb in the Rock Garden, get to your route early. This spot on the mountain will fill up quickly with yahoos that do not climb but only rappel. Moreover, they always manage to take over the good routes and spend all day on them.
There is excellent camping available thoughout the park. Primitive campsites are available for a small fee. However, if you camp at the southern end of the park or near the lake, there is no charge. (There will never be a short supply of nice places to pitch a tent.) If you have questions about where to camp, ask one of the park rangers since they are especially helpful here.
Park Headquarters: (256) 488-5111
There are no good climbing guides available for Cheaha Mountain.