Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eventful Weekend: Sunny King Crit to Janney Furnace

 Each year, visitors come from all over the south east and cyclists come from all over the world, to see and compete in the Sunny King Criterium. No crit is complete without a festival. The Sunny King Crit is accompanied annually by the Noble Street Festival, complete with a KidZone of rides and activity, a Music Cafe, and Taste of Noble selection of regional restaurants.
For 2015, we also showcased local artists at a "Pop Up" show along Noble Street, displaying pieces from Metalworks to Paintings, Graphic Design and more. This year was a bit cold and breezy, but that didn't stop locals from exploring the vendors and cheering on the events.

The weather also didn't stop local cyclists from taking on their own challenge with the Iron Mountain Challenge. Formerly the Woodland-Calhoun County Challenge, this route of various lengths, 25 to 100 miles, Cyclists begin at the Anniston Aquatics Center and take routes along 431 and 204 or along the Ladiga Trail. Those who choose the 100 mile route, take in beautiful landscapes of Dugger Mountain and Bains Gap for memorable sights and climbs.

Then on Sunday, racers took to Bains Gap for the Fort McClellan Road Race. The Men's Pro took to the 20 loop over Bains Gap four times, and you can ask any local cyclists, it's not an easy climb just once.

The weekend didn't stop there! Each Spring Janney Furnace Park hosts a reenactment on both Saturday and Sunday. The day is filled with music, food, vendors and a reenactment battle. Although Janney Furnace never went into production producing pig iron, during the Civil War, the union soldiers burned the shacks, and the brick chimney still stands today.
Near the H. Neely Henry Dam on the Coosa in Ohatchee, there still stands a marker remembering the Battle of "Ten Islands." On July 14, 1864, a Confederate Calvary was overwhelmed by Union Calvary Force while attempting to protect Janney Iron Works. After the Union destroyed the Iron Works, they proceeded south to Talladega.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

East Alabama Regional Attractions

Desoto Caverns Park
Retrace Hernando DeSoto’s expedition through the south over 450 years ago. Explore the caverns, the Lost Maze, and pan for gold and gemstones. The park features a picnic area, camping, hiking, and activities for the whole family. For more information, visit www.desotocavernspark.com.

Floating Fun
Alabama’s ‘Premier Tube Trip’ with many tubes in stock, offers a floating fun trip down Choccolocco Creek, with a variety of rapids and a steady current to enjoy. For more information, visit www.floatingfun.net.

Talladega Superspeedway 
and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Live life in the fast lane! Visit the fastest closed track in the world with records exceeding 200 miles per hour. This track hosts two major stock car races annually.
The museum, adjacent to the track, showcases vehicles that have set world records, antique automobiles, speed boats, planes, and more. They are open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. For more information, visit www.motorsportshalloffame.com.

Noccalula Falls
Gaze upon this beautiful waterfall that plunges 90 feet into a rock gorge. This landmark is named after Noccalula, the legendary Indian Princess, who leaped to her death into the waters below. Other features include the Pioneer Village, a train ride, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Cherokee Rock Village
Marvel atop the Lookout Mountain Ridge, and you won’t forget the breathtaking views of Weiss Lake. This 200+ acre park has boulders as large as 200 feet tall, dating back 300 million years to the Pennsylvanian Period. With one natural arch, eight mountain springs, miles of trail and rock climbing, it is truly an adventure. This site was also used in the 2006 film Failure to Launch with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Weiss Lake
This 30,200 acre impoundment of the Coosa, Chattoga and Little Rivers offers 447 miles of shoreline. The popularity of this location is reflected in the fact that more out-of-state fishing licenses are issued here than any other location in Alabama.

Little River Canyon
Located near Fort Payne, the Little River flows, for most of its length, atop Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama. These spectacular river and canyon systems are surrounded by Appalachian Plateau, forested uplands, waterfalls, streams, pools, boulders and sandstone cliffs. As the deepest canyon in Alabama, the setting provides a variety of recreational activities.

JSU Field Schools
Now in its seventeenth year, the field schools offer many programs to explore the Mountain Longleaf Region of Northeast Alabama. Visit the Little River Canyon Center, the Planetarium at JSU, the Choccolocco Frog Pond, or join a hike on one of the many area trails. For more information, visit www.jsu.edu/epic/field_schools.

Loyd Owens Canoe Trail
Cleburne County
This trail meanders along the Tallapoosa River from the Georgia line to Highway 431.

Lake Wedowee
Randolph County
The Harris Reservoir, a 11,000 acre Alabama Power Lake with 270 miles of shoreline, is formed by the convergence of the Little and Big Tallapoosa Rivers between Wedowee and Lineville. The Flat Rock Park, a partially submerged granite outcrop that forms a natural beach, is home to bald eagles.

Lake Chinnabee
Clay County
Built in the late 1930s, Lake Chinnabee is home to the Chinnabee Silent Trail, a six mile, one way hiking trail that runs into the Pinhoti Trail. Nearby waterfalls include Devils Den, High Falls, and Cheaha Falls.

Pinhoti Hiking Trail
Talladega, Cleburne and Calhoun Counties
Alabama’s premiere long distance recreation trail spans 110 miles as it traverses the ridges and crests of the Talladega Mountains. Starting in the northern end of the Talladega National Forest and extend through the Georgia Line to the Appalachian Trail.

Talladega National Forest and Scenic Drive

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, this national forest offers numerous recreational opportunities including, campgrounds, mountain lakes, the Talladega Scenic Byway and the Pinhoti Trail. The 26 mile Talladega Scenic Drive provides a drive to travel the backbone of the Horseblock, Cheaha and Adam’s Gap Mountains. There are several overlooks, trails and points of interest along the way. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Natural Attraction

With each morning’s sunrise over the mountains, whether in a car, on foot or pedaling away, the natural beauty of Calhoun County shines through. A cloudlike mist rises from the mountains, and a chill in the air greets the new day.
Calhoun County is rich in natural beauty, with stretches of forest and mountainous landscapes creating a picturesque surrounding to the historical architecture of our downtown municipalities.
Calhoun County is abundant in Native American history as well. From Chief Ladiga, to Ohatchee and the Creek and Indian War, artifacts have been unearthed, some of which are displayed at the Janney Furnace Museum.  
Calhoun County has many locations of historical significance and architecture. From the Freedom Rider Murals to the Church of St. Michaels and All Angels and The Victoria, the historic driving tour alone is worth a trip. Many of our attractions center around nature, from Terrapin Creek to Cheaha State Park, to trails like Coldwater and the Pinhoti.
Many area restaurants are featured in Alabama’s 100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die, and they too are a must during each stay. Places like Classic on Noble, Cooter Brown’s, and Garfrerick’s serve up delectable  dishes like Shrimp and Grits, Pecan Encrusted Grouper and Dry Rub Ribs better than you find in Memphis.

It’s no wonder that authors like Beth Duke and Pulitzer Prize winning Rick Bragg felt drawn to capture the settings, history and stories of this region in their work. Make your own memories and stories to share. Visit Northeast Alabama where adventures are abound. It’s just natural to relax and enjoy the scenery, the food, and the people.