Spotlight on Calhoun & Talladega: Culture & Recreation

These counties feature biking, hiking and birding trails; a national forest; several parks and museums; festivals and a NASCAR superspeedway

The Sunny King Criterium returned to Anniston for its 20th cycling series in April.


More than 2,000 natural history items are on display at the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum of World History, with the Longleaf Botanical Gardens just outside. Animal shows and hands-on discovery activities are designed especially for children.


The Chief Ladiga Trail runs from the Alabama/Georgia line through Anniston, Weaver, Jacksonville and Piedmont. The paved Rails to Trails project, Alabama’s first, follows the former Seaboard/CSX Railroad and connects to Georgia’s 63-mile Silver Comet Trail. Pinhoti Hiking Trail is Alabama’s premier long-distance recreation trail, spanning 110 miles and traversing the ridges and crests of the Talladega National Forest mountains through Calhoun and Talladega counties to connect with the Appalachian Trail. Sylaward Trail at Lake Howard in Sylacauga is popular area for hiking and fishing.


- Sponsor -

Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail, on 4,000 acres of Coldwater Mountain in Anniston, offers beginner loops and a 10-mile Blue Loop for intermediate riders. The trail is open to hikers and runners as well.

Test Your Off-Road Skills

TOP Trails OHV Park beckons all-terrain bikes and quads on thousands of acres at the foot of Alabama’s highest point. Choccolocco Mountain Off-Road Vehicle Park offers 450-acres for ATVs, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, four-wheel drives, rail buggies and rock crawlers.


The Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail and others have sites in these and neighboring counties.


Follow the Anniston Civil Rights Trail to 10 historic sites throughout the city, including the Freedom Riders National Monument, the nation’s first national monument dedicated to telling the story of the Freedom Riders.


Cheaha State Park ranges around Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama. The park features trails and a small lake, two museums and a restaurant with a grand view, plus accommodations. It’s all within Talladega National Forest, which deserves a visit in its own right. Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge provides 6,000 acres of mountain longleaf pine forest and is home to the Bains Gap Waterfall and trails. The 11,000-acre Neely Henry Lake in Ohatchee is perfect for skiing, boating and fishing, as is the 17,000-acre Logan Martin Lake. Canoe or kayak down Terrapin Creek and enjoy the scenery while you cool off in the spring-fed water. Selwood Farm in Talladega County offers bird hunting, sporting clays and accommodations. It also is a site on the Alabama Quail Trail. And Talladega Creekside Resort offers camping plus kayak and canoe rentals on Cheaha Creek.


Oxford Lake is home to one of Alabama’s oldest covered bridges, moved from Coldwater Creek to its Oxford Lake home. The park has sports and play space, too. Or visit Kymulga Mill & Covered Bridge near Childersburg.


Choccolocco Park in Oxford hosts soccer, softball, baseball and track events and features water and natural resources, picnic pavilions, walking and biking trails and a playground.


Explore the caverns or pan for gold at Majestic Caverns Family Fun Park in Childersburg. There’s camping, hiking and more for the whole family.


CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is a 500-acre site offering sport shooters opportunities to practice and participate in competitive events.


Pursell Farms offers accommodations, event space, golf, horseback riding, yoga and more on 3,500 acres.


Centennial Memorial Park is the official home of Alabama’s Veterans Memorial and State Law Enforcement Memorial. Talladega’s Hall of Heroes Museum is a tribute to its military veterans and first responders.


Jemison Carnegie Heritage Hall Museum in Talladega features soaring 18-foot ceilings and classic interior columns of the Beaux Arts Classic-style building, as well as the rare freestanding staircase leading down to the intimate, less formal lower galleries. Built by slave labor in 1863, Janney Furnace was burned by Union troops, but each year hosts the Battle of Ten Islands Reenactment. Visit the site and the Civil War & Native American Museum.


Talladega’s Historic Silk Stocking District covers 113 acres and architectural styles include Queen Anne, Classical Revival, Colonial Revival and other late Victorian types. The Talladega Courthouse Square Historic District, centered on the 1836 courthouse, includes the original Henderson Drug Store, the Isbell Bank, the first city hall, the Kenwin Building, the post office and the Ritz Theatre.

Oxford Performing Arts Center.


Jacksonville State University offers a variety of drama and musical productions, art exhibits, and various sporting events throughout the year. Talladega College offers workshops, lectures and presentations by outstanding artists, scientists, and political, business, and civic leaders. It also is home to the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses the critically acclaimed Amistad Murals. Check out concerts and performances at the 1,130-seat Oxford Performing Arts Center. In Talladega, check out The Historic Ritz Theatre, considered one of the best surviving examples of the Art Deco main street theatres of the 1930s. And since it reopened in 1998, it’s considered one of the premier performing arts centers of east central Alabama.


Test your skills at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Silver Lakes course between Gadsden and Anniston. Or try Alpine Bay Golf in Alpine, Anniston Municipal Golf Course, Cane Creek Golf Course in McClellan, Cider Ridge Golf Course, Indian Oaks Golf Club or Pine Hill Country Club.


White Oak Vineyards is a small farm winery that grows the fruit used to produce wines for its trademark label, Southern Oak Wines.

Talladega Superspeedway at sunrise on the morning of the Geico 500 in April 2022.


Talladega Superspeedway, the fastest closed-circuit racing venue on the planet, offers the most competitive racing in NASCAR with a host of opportunities to see the races, peek behind the scenes and more. While you’re there, visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame nearby — with three exhibit halls, a research library and more. Talladega Short Track plays host to stock car races and special events, along with full kart racing.

Festivals and Events:

Black Heritage Festival — February | Anniston The longest-running Black Heritage festival in the Southeast.

Marble Festival — April | Sylacauga Celebrating the magic of marble.

Noble Street Festival — April | Anniston Cyclists take note!

U.S. Canine Biathlon — May | Anniston Dogs and handlers compete in this four-mile challenge course.

OxfordFest — October | Oxford Arts, crafts, music, food and fun.

Talladega Walk of Fame — April | Talladega Back after a long hiatus, this year’s event at Davey Allison Memorial Park honored two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Clint Bowyer and Ken Allen Sr., founder of the memorial park.

This article appeared in the July 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

The latest Alabama business news delivered to your inbox