Spectacular Southern Scenery
The beautiful and historic lands of the Talladega National Forest offer visitors the opportunity to experience mountain terrain deep in the heartland of the South.
The forest encompasses numerous wilderness areas as well as Cheaha State Park, site of the highest point in Alabama. Other recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking, sightseeing and more.
Be sure to see the video of High Falls at the bottom of this page!
A New Deal project created during the Great Depression by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Talladega National Forest was established by Presidential Proclamation on July 17, 1936.
The government had already acquired two key tracts of land that would become the national forest by the time of President Roosevelt’s proclamation. With the exception of some wilderness areas, the forest bore little of its present appearance. The lands had been heavily timbered over the century since the Upper Creeks were forced from the area. Large areas had been clearcut and farmed and with few conservation efforts implemented, much of the land had become a wasteland.
Through a careful program of conservation and replanting, however, the U.S. Forest Service has turned the Talladega National Forest into a place of striking beauty.
From tree planting projects that began in the 1930s, the tree cover has now matured and the mountains and valleys are once again considered scenic treasures.
The Talladega Scenic Byway passes through much of the Talladega Division of the forest, taking visitors across the tops of the Talladega Mountains where they can enjoy spectacular views and access Cheaha State Park.
Points of interest in the Talladega Ranger District include the Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area, Turnipseed Camp and a number of hunter camps. Hiking opportunities include the Chinnabee Silent Trail, the Lake Shore Trail, the Cave Creek Trail, the Nubbin Ridge Trail, the Skyway Loop Trail and the Odum Scout Trail. All of these trails are for hiking only, but the nearby Kentuck ORV Trail can be used by motorcycles, ATVs and mountain bikes.
The Shoal Creek Ranger District features the newly renovated Coleman Lake Recreation Area, Pine Glen Recreation Area, Warden Station Horse Camp, Big Oak Hunter Camp for physically disabled hunters as well as other hunter camps. The Pinhoti Trail winds for more than 100 miles from Piedmont in the north to a point south of Talladega.
The Shoal Creek Ranger District also preserves the Cheaha Wilderness. This 7,245 wilderness area is preserved in its
natural state and features over 1,000 acres that are more than 2,000 feet in elevation.
The Oakmulgee Ranger District is located south of Centreville, Alabama, and features the Payne Lake Recreation Area and several hunter camps. A one and one-half mile nature trail is available at Payne Lake for hikers.
Cheaha State Park, one of the oldest state parks in Alabama, is surrounded by the Talladega National Forest and is a great starting point for explorations of the forest. The park offers a hotel, restaurant, cabins, chalets, picnic areas, hiking trails, store and a number of other recreational opportunities.
Especially popular with day visitors are the numerous waterfalls found in the Talladega Ranger District. Several of these – Cheaha Falls, Devil’s Den and High Falls – are accessible by short hikes and are located near Cheaha State Park. Be sure to see the video of High Falls at the bottom of this page.
Numerous historic sites exist in the Talladega National Forest, ranging from rock shelters once used by Native American hunters to a pioneer home site at Payne Lake Recreation Area and beautiful Depression-era stone structures at Cheaha State Park. All sites within the forest and adjacent state park areas are protected and removal of artifacts or looting of sites is against the law and violators will be prosecuted.
The Talladega Mountains and Talladega National Forest are easily accessible from I-20 between Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.