Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association
On the south end of Lake Martin, near the dam, lies the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, a series of interconnected hiking paths offering spectacular views and native flora.
In his book Hiking Alabama: A Guide to Alabama’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, Joe Cuha called it “a new jewel in Alabama’s hiking crown.” The trail is the handiwork of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association and was laid out on land owned by Alabama Power Co. that has been set aside as “natural, undeveloped” as part of the company’s license to operate the lake. The paths, which have drawn visitors from around the world, are open only to foot traffic. The Loop Trail, which begins in Overlook Park, offers length options ranging from one to seven miles, so that a visitor can enjoy a few hours or an entire day. By far the most rewarding — and challenging — trail is the Deadening Alpine Trail, a 3.6 mile loop. The cliffs of the Tallapoosa, the Needles Eye, and Jasmine Bluff are just a few of the unusual rock formations that await the hiker.
Spectacular vistas of Lake Martin, and, in season, thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron will delight the hiker. CRATA does not recommend children under 12 years of age hike this trail. It also recommends that children ages 12 to 14 years have strict adult supervision. There are cliffs and bluffs without safety barriers within 10 to 20 feet of the trail. A fall from these heights could result in critical injury or death.
For more information about the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, visit the organization’s web site, http://www.cherokeeridgealpinetrail.org
Directions to Overlook Park
From the East (Walnut Hill) go west on Highway 50 and turn right on Overlook Drive, which is marked by a Scenic Overlook sign. The trailhead parking lot is 3.3 miles on the right.
From the West (Red Hill) go east on Highway 50 and turn left onto Overlook Drive at the Martin Dam sign .3 mile after crossing over the Tallapoosa River. Follow the newly built road to the trailhead parking lot that is 1.5 miles on the left.