Feb. 6, 2006

Weiss Lake, Little Rock City make list of state's top 100 tourist attractions

By Kristin Latty

CENTRE Everyone who's visited Cherokee County knows about the beautiful mountain views and crappie-filled Weiss Lake. Now, everyone else does, too.

Alabama Outdoors recently named its 100 Outdoor Adventures in Alabama. Among them are Cherokee Rock Village and Weiss Lake.

"Different tourism offices throughout the state were allowed to submit outdoor places within their county for recommendation in the brochure," said Chamber of Commerce Director Theresa Hulgan. "I submitted Cherokee Rock Village because it is nicer than it has been in a while. The Cherokee County Park Board has spent a lot of time recently getting it cleaned up."

Alabama Department of Tourism recommends county-owned Cherokee Rock Village as a "beginner-to-advanced rock climbing and bouldering" spot. The agency also recommends the "scenic views into two states." The 200-acre park is located on Lookout Mountain west of Leesburg just off Highway 68. It contains huge boulders of sandstone and quartz that reach as high as 150 feet, some of which were formed over 300 million years ago. Some of the ridges in the Village are over 70 feet wide.

The area was occupied by American Indians from around 8,000 B.C. until 1838, when the Trail of Tears pushed the Native Americans westward. Some people believe the rock formations were used by Cherokee and other tribes for religious and ceremonial rites. Though that has not been definitively proven, what is factual is that on a clear day viewers can see into Georgia and Tennessee from atop the large rocks.

Rock climbers come from all over the country to check out Cherokee Rock Village. Many rock climbing web sites have named it as one of the best places to climb in Alabama because there is such a large stretch of endless rocks in all different sizes and degrees.

"We have several hundred people that come to Cherokee Rock Village each year to rock climb, hike and camp," said Hulgan.

From the mountaintop, formerly known as Little Rock City, you can see a perfect view of almost every inch of Weiss Lake. The lake is a 30,200-acre man-made reservoir that fills from the waters of the Coosa, Chattooga and Little rivers. One thing that makes Weiss Lake stand out from any other lake in Alabama is that more out-of-state fishing licenses are issued in Cherokee County than anywhere else in the state.

"The first place that I submitted for the Alabama Outdoors new brochure was the lake," said Hulgan. "It is one of our most beneficial outdoor areas. It brings in a lot of tourism with fishing and recreation."

Known as "The Crappie Capital of the World," the lake is renowned for consistently producing two pound and larger crappie. It also offers shallow flats, underwater drop offs, deep channels and large coves. The lower part of the lake offers large bass. The lake also makes way for several marinas, campgrounds, motels, guide services and bait and supply shops along the 440-mile shoreline.

Gov. Bob Riley, who worked closely with Alabama Outdoors on the Top 100 list, encourages families and visitors to experience the wide variety of fishing, hunting, biking, and other nature activities on the list.