Since the 1980’s, rock climbers and mountaineers from around the world have flocked to Cherokee Rock Village to practice and hone their rock climbing skills. Hollywood even took notice and shot scenes at the park, located in Cherokee County near Leesburg, for the 2006 film Failure to Launch, starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker.
“Cherokee Rock Village is such a special experience for people because it’s where many climbers experience outdoor rock climbing for the first time,” said Meagan Evans, executive director of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. “Hundreds of routes offer a variety of sport and traditional rock climbing and bouldering for everyone from beginners to advanced climbers.”
On a late weekday afternoon, families were cooking at one of several picnic tables along the ridgeline, and a few backpackers had set up camp overlooking Weiss Lake in the valley below. The park has more than 100 primitive campgrounds and 15 RV hookups for overnight stays.
Visitors will also find more than three miles of relatively easy hiking trails winding through the 300-acre park, and a new mountain bike trail that opened in spring 2022 is also popular.
“Besides climbing the massive boulders, CRV is a great place to relax, hike and enjoy the great outdoors,” says Theresa Hulgan, executive director of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. “We welcome groups to Cherokee Rock Village, such as Boy Scouts, youth groups and colleges, for everything from outdoor team-building fun to essential skill training. The view is impressive, whether you’re looking down from the lookout or sitting on the highest boulder. If the weather cooperates, you can see as far as Rome, Georgia.”
Rock climbers from all over the world come to Northeast Alabama to scale the massive boulders at Cherokee Rock Village. (Scott Baker / Life in Alabama)
Visitors to Cherokee Rock Village can watch rock climbers scrambling up and down the face of its mammoth rocks. (Scott Baker / Life in Alabama)
My acquaintance with Cherokee Rock Village came through Instagram, where I saw images of imposing boulders some 20 stories tall piercing the sky in rural Cherokee County. For a photographer, the rocks, mountaintop and beautiful vistas looked like the right place for a photo adventure, and I coordinated my first visit on a sunny day in late October to coincide with the fall foliage.
Although I was a little late for the highlight of the color on this first visit, I was rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Weisssee and some lingering leaves along some trails. I could also see experienced climbers climbing the wall of the mammoth rock.
The park, located on the south end of Lookout Mountain overlooking Weiss Lake, is open all day every day and requires admission of $7 per car. Camping and gazebo rentals are also available. Visit cherokeerockvillage.com or call 256-523-3799 for more information.
This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.