Friday, June 24, 2016

Pedal Plan

"The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine." ~John Howard
When's the last time you rode a bike? As a kid, that's one thing our parents may teach us, but do we maintain that knowledge with practice and lose it as we grow older? Some people can pick up where they left off, and some, like children, take a while to find their balance.

Cycling has gained popularity in Alabama in recent years, thanks to the surge of road biking events and development of mountain bike trails in Anniston, Birmingham, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and more. Not only is cycling exercise, but it's a great recreation opportunity to explore the outdoors and as Hemingway said, "learn the contours of a country best."

Calhoun County, Alabama is haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially cyclists. 

From the municipalities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston, one could cycle all the way to Atlanta via our local rail trail. The Ladiga Trail is 32.5 miles of paved rail trail, wandering along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. With paths through residential areas as well as views of open fields, creeks and hillsides, this shaded path provides cyclists of all levels an area to retreat. From the avid sprinter and road biker to the family learning how to pedal, Ladiga is a perfect spot for any weekend adventure. 
*June 24, the sinkholes in the Jacksonville section have been repaired, and the entire trail is undisturbed and fully open again! 

This is not for the beginner cyclist or the faint of heart. Coldwater is full of quick twists and side-winding turns, hard climbs and fast descents. Baby Bear and other trails are great for those wanting to try mountain biking; however, Bomb Dog and other trails are more for the advanced cyclists, ready for whatever comes their way. These trails are mostly shaded, but Alabama summers are brutal and suggest a morning or evening spin. 

That's not all! Within the county, we also have Iron Legs and Henry Farms Mountain Biking Trails, and several road routes area cyclists frequent. Within the region, we have the Black Creek Trail in Gadsden and Cheaha State Park's Mountain Bike Trails. 
For more information, check out our Area Maps

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adventure Awaits: Fun for the Whole Family

As a kid, nothing is better than exploring the outdoors and marveling at all the world has to offer.
Just Around the River bend
The Alabama Scenic River Trail is the longest river trail in a single state. There are 40+ waterways, rivers and streams, that are recognized as the Alabama Scenic River Trail, including Terrapin Creek. Terrapin flows from Cleburne County, through Calhoun County and into Cherokee County. The lower end of the creek is perfect to float in a kayak or canoe and fun for the whole family. The upper creek also has great fishing spots. 

Terrapin Outdoor Center
4114 County Rd 175
(256) 447-8383

3850 County Rd 175
(256) 447-8690

Hakuna Matata!
Explore the wilds of Africa, the wonders of the North American wilderness, and the mysteries of 2,000 year old mummies in the seven fascinating exhibit halls of Anniston Museum of Natural History. Their open-air exhibits place you face to face with majestic--and often deadly--animals! See one of the country's oldest exhibits of birds in their habitats, and explore the children's discovery room for hands-on experiences with Alabama's natural wonders.Picnic and stroll along outdoor nature trails and enjoy a trip for everyone. 

Anniston Museum of Natural History
800 Museum Drive
Anniston, AL 36206
Summer Hours:
Monday–Saturday, 10am–5pm
Sunday 1–5pm
Last admission at 4:30 daily

Whistle While You Work
The paved family friendly rail trail of Ladiga stretches 32.5 miles from the Georgia-Alabama line to Anniston, with access points in the cities of Piedmont, Jacksonville and Weaver. This trail also connects to the Silver Comet Trail, extending an additional 63 miles into Georgia.
Calhoun County is also home to the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail, with its more than 30 miles of intermediate and advanced trails stretching across its 4,000 acre property. 
There are also smaller area trails like Henry Farm and Iron Legs, great for a day of exploring. 

Climb Every Mountain
From the highest point in Alabama, Cheaha, to Little River Canyon, the Pinhoti and everything in-between, there are numerous family friendly hiking trails and opportunities within an hour radius of Calhoun County. Explore waterfalls and make time to swim, as you cool off from the warm summer hike. 

Outside My Window
If you don't have time to explore more or are just passing through, stretch your legs at one of our great parks. From Oxford Lake and Lagarde Park to Jacksonville's Germania Springs, there are great places to play and stroll is you can't stay. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Paddle East Alabama

"Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself."

Calhoun County is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, including those who like to kayak and canoe. Spending time along the creeks and lakes is definitely one way to explore the East Alabama landscapes.

Neely Henry
This 11,000 acres is perfect for skiing, boating and fishing along Hwy 77 North. This area has public boat launches, picnic areas and fishing piers perfect for the whole family.

Terrapin Creek
Canoe or kayak down the beautiful Terrapin Creek, and take in scenery like you’ve never seen. Cool off in the spring fed water, and enjoy fun for the whole family.

Chocolocco Creek
Kayak down this creek or meet up with 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.
East Alabama

Coosa River
This tributary of the Alabama River is about 280 miles long, beginning in Rome, Georgia and ending just north of Montgomery. This river includes the sections of Lake Logan Martin, Neely Henry and Weiss Lake. Major cities located along the banks of the Coosa include: Gadsden, Rainbow City, Southside and more.

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.

Logan Martin
Beginning at the Neely Henry Dam, this lake continues south toward Pell City, and a majority of the lake traffic is between I-20 and the Logan Martin Dam, especially during the summer.

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. 

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, an 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. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Calhoun County Cuisine

Foodies Unite! Regardless of what your palate prefers, Calhoun County has mouth-watering food and southern hospitality all wrapped into one amazing destination. In fact, three local restaurants were featured in Alabama's 100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die, and another local staple was voted by the state as the best pizza. So, as you travel along I-20, take a short detour.

Classic on Noble's Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp and Grits were basically born in the south, and from the Carolinas to Louisiana is lovingly called "the grit belt." Classic's version plates creamy grits packed with flavor and bacon, and shrimp soaked in a buttery Cajun sauce. This deep south dish is featured daily on their lunch and dinner menu and at every Sunday's Brunch. If you favor the brunch, you might want to make a reservation and be prepared to skip dinner that night.
1024 Noble Street, Anniston, AL 36201 - (256)237-5388 - 

Cooter Brown's Rib Shack Ribs
We might be biased, but we've traveled to Memphis and more. We still can't find ribs that beat Cooter Brown's! The dry-rub ribs are delectable but be prepared to get messy. Also, try the Hillbilly Egg Rolls appetizer. They pair nicely with the ribs and baked beans. Cooter Brown's also serves several local breweries' craft beers.
8464 Alabama Hwy 204, Jacksonville, AL 36265 - (256)435-1514 - 

Garfrerick's Cafe's Pecan Encrusted Grouper
This farm to table cafe dishes out some of the best local vegetables, and the pecan encrusted grouper is mouth-watering. Garfrerick's also serves a Sunday Brunch, but it is comprised of mostly vegetables and a classic southern dessert. The bread is great and vegetables fresh. If fish isn't for you, they also have great steaks, so there is something for everyone!
655 Creekside Drive, Oxford, AL 36203 - (256)831-0044 - 

Mata's Greek Pizza & Grinders
Voted the Best Pizza in Alabama, this family owned and operated restaurant has served Calhoun County for over 20 years. The dough, the pizzas, are made from scratch. The cheese is grated daily, the toppings hand chopped. If you measure the time to make the dough, grate the cheese, chop the toppins, load your favorite ingredients all the way until the deep-dish is baked, each pizza takes about two hours from start to finish. Their salads are a great pairing, and if you're not a pizza person, they have "grinder" sandwiches that are delicious too. We recommend calling in your order, so you you don't have to smell the mouth-watering pizzas long before you can dig in...
1708 Quintard Avenue, Anniston, AL 36201 - (256)237-3100 -

It's impossible to choose just a handful of restaurants to represent the diverse menus Calhoun County has to offer, so you'll just have to come eat, stay and play to try it all yourself.