Dog days of summer got you down? We’re here to help with a list of watering holes that residents of Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne or Talladega counties will find refreshing in more ways than one.
Cheaha State Park is one of the cheaper places for families to enjoy a day in the water. The park’s six-acre, man-made Cheaha Lake is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and features a playground, beach, diving platform and several shaded pavilions with picnic tables.
Only adults pay the $3 entrance fee, so parents can fill up the family station wagon and get wet for almost nothing.
Visitors can also rent paddle boats, $5 for 30 minutes, or go out fishing in a jon boat, $10 for four hours.
Crystal Springs Lake
Located in Wellington, this spring-fed swimming hole has been an area favorite for decades. It opened in 1939, and is family-owned and operated. Christine Watkins has been the owner since 1959.
The lake has a diving board, a beach with volleyball courts, swings and a café. A family membership for the lake’s full season, from mid-May to Labor Day, is $125. Individual memberships are $50. A single-day pass for visitors 12 and over is $5; 11 and under is $3.
Devil’s Den and Salt Creek Falls
There are at least four waterfalls near Cheaha State Park in the Talladega National Forest: Devil’s Den, Cheaha Falls, High Falls and Salt Creek Falls. None are located inside the state park. Neither are they for the faint of heart — all require a hike over potentially dangerous terrain.
Devil’s Den, located about 1.5 miles up the Chinnabee Silent Trail, which starts at Lake Chinnabee, is popular with young adults because it features a rock outcropping perfect for jumping into the icy-cool pool about 10 feet below.
Another popular spot is Salt Creek Falls in the Talladega Wilderness off Cheaha Road. It may be the largest and most beautiful cascading waterfall in this area, but it’s also the most dangerous of all the falls in the National Forest. At least three people have been killed falling from the slick rocks at the top of the 45-degree-angle waterfall. The hike is also very steep, so visitors should be in good shape and exercise extreme caution.
Kayaking on Terrapin Creek
Mike Warren of the Terrapin Outdoor Center in Piedmont says his rental operation puts thousands of canoes and kayaks on an almost eight-mile section of Terrapin Creek during the busy season, from about March to Labor Day.
Single-boat rentals cost $30, and a double canoe is $50. Warren says the creek’s proximity to Jacksonville State University brings in a lot of students, but families enjoy the scenic water route, too. However, any children in boats rented from the Outdoor Center must weigh a minimum of 70 pounds.
Tubing on Choccolocco Creek
Fred Couch started Floating Fun in April with the help of a business partner who shares his love of river rafting. Floating Fun operates on nine miles of Choccolocco Creek, and is headquartered in Oxford off Exit 179 on I-20. Visitors can rent a single tube and float three different sections of the creek for $10, $15 or $20, depending on the length of the section chosen.
Double tubes are available for double the rate. Inflatable kayaks called fun-yaks are also available for $15, $25 and $35. Rates include a push stick, lifejacket, parking and transportation to and from the creek’s entrance and exit points.
Zinn Park Splash Pad
Last month, the Anniston Parks and Recreation Department opened a splash pad at Zinn Park to give local parents a free place to take kids and cool off during the heat of the day. The concrete pad features jets that spray water into the air like a giant sprinkler.
Piedmont Aquatic Center
Piedmont opened its $1.8 million aquatic center this year. The complex has a two-story water slide into a 12-feet deep outdoor pool and several other water features, as well as changing rooms and a concession area.
The pool is open every day except Sunday. An all-day pool pass is $5; groups of more than three pay $4 per person.
Oxford Lake Park
Oxford Lake got a facelift this year. The city of Oxford repaved the walking trail around the lake, installed new lights and pavilions, and restored the historic Coldwater Covered Bridge, which was moved to the park in 1990.
The park also has a splash pad, playground area, and the city pool, which is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. A pool pass is $2 per person; season passes, which are good from Memorial Day until Labor Day, are $40. Family passes are $70.