Chewacla State Park

By on 26 August, 2015 in Fun, Kate and Stephen, Outdoors, Parks with 2 Comments

IMG_4176We needed to get away. We were honestly envisioning some kind of epic, spur-of-the-moment road trip, which would lead us towards the kind of reflective meditation that you can only get from staring off of a mountain peak in one of America’s finest national parks.

But because we are adults and have responsibilities, our whimsical weekend adventure quickly got pared down to a single day’s trip. We had household chores to do, and a longer trip would mean putting the cats in the kennel. Wasn’t there anywhere that we could make a quick trip to get a dose of nature?

We didn’t measure it exactly by miles, but we think that the closest state park is the one near Auburn. It’s called Chewacla, and we really had no idea what to expect. We didn’t even know what the name meant until looking it up after our trip. Spoiler alert: It’s a Native American word meaning “Raccoon Town,” which is awesome.

The state park is also awesome. We didn’t have the multi-day spiritual journey that we originally imagined, but if you’re looking for a fabulous day trip from Montgomery, Chewacla deserves a look.

We took the dog, and we weren’t looking to do much of anything fancy. Evidently, you can ride your BMX bike or do some mountain biking, or maybe even some swimming, kayaking (if you bring your own), or camping. We really wanted to check out the CCC Cottages (since we are such big fans of that era of American history), but for this trip, we were content to just walk around on the network of trails.

We needed some exercise, and the sound of the two “waterfalls” was deemed to be curative for the malaise that sets in when you spend too much time looking at a phone, television, or computer monitor. I use quotation marks around the word “waterfall,” because one of them seemed to be a gushing stream of water coming out of a pipe. Not exactly natural majesty, but the other one was really cool, and there was a couple there with their dog.

chewacla mapOur dog was thrilled to be out on the trails, and we saw a really great lizard, several large fish in the astonishingly clear stream, some large birds, a couple of deer, and one quickly fleeing turtle. The trails are well-kept and mostly wide. The forest is thick enough to provide shade in many parts, which was really welcome in the Alabama August heat. The longer trails are long enough to justify at least a day pack, including some water and maybe a few snacks. There was a small amount of litter, but nothing appalling. Hopefully everyone will pick up after the few slobs that tarnish the natural beauty.

All in all, we had a great time. Admission was incredibly cheap, and we found ourselves wishing that we had made a full day of it (instead of swinging by for just an afternoon after a great lunch at Opelika’s Ma Fia’s Italian restaurant). And we left with at least some of the mental refreshment we had been looking for. It’s not ever going to be featured on a Ken Burns documentary, but Chewacla is a great reminder of the virtues of the Alabama state park system as a whole. And that’s a timely message given what’s going on in Montgomery with the state budgeting situation.

We’re at real risk of some of these places being shut down, simply over political debates about state revenue and taxes. And apologies for the politics, but that’s idiotic. The state park system has a message on its website about the budget cuts, but they ought to hand a flyer to everyone entering the park, letting you know what’s at stake and what your elected officials are doing (or not doing) about the situation.

We felt really lucky to live near a place like Chewacla. And if politicians don’t mess it up for us, we’ll be heading back soon.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. Melissa says:

    There are actually two waterfalls at Chewacla. Sorry you only found one 🙂

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