My Day in Clay County
By Doug Barrett
Last week I had the opportunity to tour Clay County, Alabama with two local enthusiasts. I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly suprised at the unique and cool things to do and see in and around the county.
One of the highlights for me was touring Alabama Gold Camp. I love watching gold rush type shows on cable and was thrilled to discover I can mine for gold as a tourist in Clay county. They call it recreational mining. The folks at AGC are so friendly and took the time to take us on a tour of all the different ways that you can mine for gold on your own. The least expensive way is to buy a pan and pay a day fee to access their creek. You can also rent a “high bank” that allows you to shovel materials into a sluice for your own prospecting. It looks like tons of fun and a great activity to do together as a family. Bring a picnic and make it an all day experience.
I also enjoyed visiting the dam at Lake Wedowee (R. L. Harris Reservoir). We were joined by a couple of Bald Eagles. The dam has a nice walkway for bird watching and fishing. We were lucky to be there when they turned on the turbines and got to see the water move from the lake into the Tallapoosa River. Very cool.
We finished the tour at the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha State Park, overlooking the hills of east Alabama while watching a beautiful sunset. Along the way to the top we stopped at the Cheaha Trailhead to see the Iron gate that was forged at Sloss Furnace in Birmingham. The trail includes 130 miles for camping, backpacking, and hiking. The Pinhoti Trail also runs through the park. The Pinhoti is a 335 mile southeast region Appalachian Trail Connector. In the spring the trail flowers with local wildflowers, dogwoods and shrubs and in the fall it is brightly colored with fall leaves.
So relaxing and beautiful and I can’t believe that this is the first time I have been here. Mt. Cheaha and Clay County are very close to the Birmingham metropolitan area and the perfect day trip for a family car tour or for motor bike or cycling enthusiasts You can get a Clay County Road Map that includes the Tsalagi Trail map at the Chamber of Commerce office in Lineville (or purchase online) that shows four (4) great rides, including one with with 242 curves for bikers and no stop lights. The ride takes you through the rolling hills below Cheaha and through the very picturesque lands surrounding the park. It is the perfect day trip and a mini-get-away that completely refreshes your outlook on life.
I will return!