The Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway is one of the most beautiful drives in the State of Alabama.
It is approximately 80 miles in duration and is located in the northeastern portion of the state.
It will take you through four different counties in Alabama, and connects Interstate 20 near Heflin with Interstate 59 located in Fort Payne
This beautiful and historic drive will take you past some of the most scenic natural settings you have ever seen, as well as several historical sites.
Getting to and then following the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway can be a bit tricky, but it is well worth the effort.
The byway will follow Alabama Highway 9 until it intersects with U.S Highway 78, which is located just on the outside of the city limits of Heflin.
Once you are at this intersection, you will head west on US 78/ SR-9, which will take you through the Talladega National Forest.
You will continue to follow this until Alabama Highway 9 cuts a northward angle through the small town of White Plains.
Once there, you will follow the Duggar Mountain Scenic Drive, until you get to Piedmont Alabama.
Once you are in Piedmont, the byway will cross the Chief Ladiga Trail and US Highway 278.
Keep going north on Highway 9 through the small town of Ellisville until you reach Centre, where you will then take U.S Highway 411 west toward Leesburg.
Once you are in Leesburg, you will take Alabama 273 that will take you in a northeastern direction to the community of Blanche.
Once you are in Blanche, the byway leaves Highway 273 and you will take Alabama Highway 35 going west.
From here the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway takes you to Lookout Mountain through Little River Canyon National Preserve.
Once you leave Lookout Mountain and enter the town of Fort Payne, the bypass ends.
There are several different historic sites you can visit along the way including the following.
If you are ending your day trip in Fort Payne, one of the first places to visit is the Historic Fort Payne.
It is believed that the area around this original fort was established sometime in the early 1730’s, when the Cherokee Indian Tribe settled there.
During the removal of the same Cherokee Indians to the Oklahoma Territories in the 1830’s, Captain John Payne built a stockade next to this same area.
Once it was established, it became known as Fort Payne.
The Benge Route Trail of Tears Historic Marker
Next of the list of places to visit is the Benge Route Trail of Tears Historic Marker, that marks the site of this horrible mistake in history.
It marks the spot where the Cherokee leader, John Benge, led over 1,000 Cherokee Indians out of Fort Payne, and into the state of Oklahoma.
There is a famous motorcycle ride held every year to honor those Indians that were associated with the “Trail of Tears”.
The Fort Payne Depot Museum
Next on the list of places to see along the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway, is the Fort Payne Depot Museum.
Originally built in the year 1889, it was made from sandstone that was quarried and then trimmed in pink granite.
It is a great example of the some of the early styles of architecture that was used in those days.
It contains literally thousands of very rare Indian artifacts, as well as relics from every war since the Civil War.
The Heflin Historic District
The Town of Heflin in located in Cleburne County in the southern Range of the Appalachian Mountains and was incorporated in the year 1886.
It was developed from settlers who moved here from Georgia and South Carolina, and showcases buildings from the 1890’s through 1940’s.
The Cheaha Wilderness Area and State Park
Next on the list of places to visit on the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway is the Cheaha Wilderness Area and State Park.
This park is on the famous Pinhoti Trail, and is best known for its overlooks into the gorgeous scenery below, as well as its high terrains.
It also holds the honor of having the highest elevation in the State of Alabama.
The Loyd Owens Canoe Trail
Next is the Loyd Owens Canoe Trail, which will take you along 44 miles of the Tallapoosa River in gorgeous forest and farmland background settings.
What makes this trail so appealing is that it offers visitors five separate ramps, in case you want to just float certain portions of the river.
The trail itself begins near County Road 49 and ends at US Highway 431 near, the town of Hollis Crossroads.
The Anniston Museum of National History
Next up is the Anniston Museum of National History that features the Regar-Werner bird exhibit.
This exhibit has specimens that have gone extinct as well as several that are endangered.
It also has several natures trails you can hike, as well as picnic areas for you and your family.
The Piedmont Commercial and Historic Districts
The Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway will also take you to the Piedmont Commercial and Historic Districts.
Settled in the early 1850’s, it was connected to the rest of the State by the Railroad, and gradually grew in size.
It was originally named “Hollow Stump” which was then changed to “Cross Plains”, before the town settled on its current name of Piedmont.
There are several Victorian era homes that surround the downtown area, which contains several buildings built in the early 1900’s.
Next up on the list of sites to see along the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway is Terrapin Creek.
Terrapin Creek is a major stream found in Cherokee County and can be located near the Roberts and Coloma Mountains on the byway.
What makes this one of the best sites to see on a day trip with your family is that there is a pull-off on a country road that allows you to access it.
There are canoes for rent as well as tours that are available by outfitters.
Weiss Lake and Dam
Next on the list is Weiss Lake and Dam, which was created by the Alabama Power Company in the early 1950’s.
It is a huge dam that covers over 30,000 acres and has over 450 miles of shoreline that is formed by the Coosa River.
It is best known by the name of the “Crappie Capital of the World” and has several gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls is next, and it offers an absolutely stunning view of the area overlooking Weiss Lake.
The falls are located north of the remains of the railroad line that was built in this area in the 1890’s.
There are boat ramps in the area as well as numerous recreational offerings.
The Cornwall Furnace and Park
The final site on this list of places to see along the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway is the Cornwall Furnace and Park.
The Cornwall furnace was built in the year 1862, and it supplied the Noble Brothers Company of Rome Georgia with iron.
During its peak, it was one of the largest suppliers of munition makers in the South.
The furnace was taken out of commission in the year 1875.
There is a large nature trail as well as a picnic area in the park for you and your family to enjoy.
While these are certainly not all of the sites to see along the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway, they are some of the most popular.
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