Cherokee Rock Village, a massive outcropping of sandstone boulders along Lookout Mountain above Leesburg, offers some of the most spectacular vistas in Alabama. When you walk out onto the huge stacks of boulders that adorn the east-facing ridge line and look out at open sky above and to sparkling Weiss Lake below, it may be hard to believe that this is not the highest point in the state. The boulders at Cherokee Rock Village have long been famed as one of the premier rock-climbing locations in the country, and they attract climbers from near and far. The habitat atop the ridge is adorned with mature Virginia Pines, Chestnut Oaks, and Hickories. From the park’s paved parking lot, walk east to access the boulders.
The southern paths to the boulders lead to tremendous views of open skies, and are surely among the best places in the state to see soaring birds of prey. The ideal time to hawk-watch in Alabama is from mid-September through late November, but many of the raptors breed locally and soar over the ridge throughout much of the year. This is also a good location to watch swallows and swifts as they skip and sail overhead.
Walk along the northern boulders and trails leading downhill to the base of the massive stones. Vegetation is more sparse near the base of the boulders, and the view is breathtaking. The most interesting birds here are the Eastern Phoebes that nest in the rock clefts, and the Winter Wrens that are present from October through April.
The ridgeline and boulders are not the only birding opportunities that Cherokee Rock Village has to offer. The mixed pine-oak-hickory woods of this 250 acre site harbor Scarlet Tanagers between mid-April and mid-September, and they share this habitat with Summer Tanagers and Great Crested Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Black-and-white and Pine Warblers, and Pileated Woodpeckers.
As you approach Cherokee Rock Village by way of Valley Street in Sand Rock, there are a couple of old fields that should be birded for sparrows and other grassland birds. Rock City Avenue and County Road 70 also have considerable amounts of second-growth scrub habitat. Here, you should look for Prairie Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and many more.
From I-59 in DeKalb County, take exit 205 (Collinsville [fuel, food, and lodging available in the several nearby towns along AL 68]), and follow it for 7 miles until you reach Valley Street in the community of Sand Rock. Turn south onto Valley Street. After 1.5 miles, turn left onto Rock City Avenue, which becomes CR 70 in .6 mile. Cherokee Rock Village is 2.8 miles ahead.
2000 County Road 70, Leesburg, AL. 35983
GPS: 34.1862323 -85.805448