Skyway Motorway, Sections 2 & 3

A barn nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains caught our eye and we had to get this pic.

Note: B and I decided to split this trip into several post based on driving conditions. This sectioning off is purely from our own thoughts and not based on anything we read any where 🙂 We have driven on 4 different parts of the old Skyway Motorway so far and intend to finish it all the next time we can both get a day off :D From the ones we’ve driven so far the first two road sections were best suited for 4wd/high clearance vehicles. The 1st part wasn’t that bad, but the 2nd part scared the crap out of us (but it was fun!). We have an Element (low clearance) w/ 4wd so we were okay on when we needed all wheels but scraped bottom constantly and were incredibly lucky not to have to get towed, or (much) damage our vehicle because of how low our Element sits. We would NOT drive the second again without a higher clearance 4wd vehicle. It was stupid, but we had no idea how bad the road was till we were in the thick of it. So unless you hear that it’s been leveled (and I doubt this will happen..maybe ever) I’m saving you the same problem if you have low clearance. I hope this helps other people who want to drive this historic road and soak up the beauty as we did. Get out there and enjoy it… who knows how much longer these roads will be with us. However, I actually think hiking the Skyway Motorway would be pretty cool. It’s entirely on Forest Service land so you’ve got free camping options everywhere you walk :)

This blog post covers road sections 3 & 4 which were drivable by anyone anywhere. In fact one of them was paved. Hurray for you non outdoorsy car people! How did we determine where a road section stopped and began? Easy. If we started on a forest service road and crossed a major road or turned off of the Forest Service Road and had to take several turns to get back on the old skyway motorway then we consider that starting a new section.

Let’s review shall we?

The 4 sections we have driven so far listed below in order from South to North:

  1. 600-1 &
  2. 600-2 before Gunterstown Road {section 2 requires a higher clearance vehicle than we have, and although we made it we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone else as low as we are (we drive an Element). 4wd was used, but only in certain sections}
  3. 600-2 after Gunterstown road &
  4. 281 {both easy to drive in any vehicle and blogged about today}.

    Your gps may try to convince you that you are not only not on any road known to man, but are also floating in a sea of green. But as you can see, we are indeed ON a real road. CCC made and going strong decades later.

The third section by our definition starts when 600-2 comes to a stop sign at the intersection of Gunterstown Road (though we think it actually might be called by several names) and the Talladega map shows it going to Gunterstown or that it is Gunterstown Road it’s a bit unclear. Either way you don’t turn. Just go straight. In our previous post we talked about ranking the roads as easy (1) to incredibly difficult and need a 4wd (5). Once you cross over you are on a great smooth road that ranks a 1. It is still 600-2 and I have no idea why one part of it is so well maintained and great and the other…not so much. But on this road you can actually pick up some speed!  There are several good views on this section and they’re easy to miss because you’ll finally be able to go 30 miles an hour without wincing. The road is smooth, well graveled and extremely well maintained. Because of this you may pass cars on this road. Be very aware. There aren’t a ton of places to pull over but you can usually have room to pass if one of you goes wide and you go slow. We stopped in the middle of the road several times for fall pictures of the road because it was so pretty!

I loved the orange and reds that seemed to appear on this stretch of road.

I loved the orange and reds that seemed to appear on this stretch of road.

orange and blue

At the end of this road is section 4. It spits you out on AL 281. You’re really coming out straight but if the intersection confuses you just remember to go to the left when you come out. It’s a hard intersection to explain. This is a paved road that we only traveled half of because it got dark. Lots of pull overs on your left to admire the view. You will also pass directly past the road to the left that goes to Cheaha Lake. IF you took that road as a detour and went further past Cheaha Lake the road takes you to Chinabee Lake, which I highly prefer over Cheaha Lake- a great place to have a picnic (they charge a small fee) get in a little hiking, or check out their affordable campsite.

ahhh! watchout Brandon! Tree falling!! lol

ahhh! watchout Brandon! Tree falling!! lol It’s actually a BIG group of trees growing together. Sideways.

But back to the road we actually drove -as you continue up 281 you will pass by Cheaha State Park which has a restaurant and lots of hiking and a general store for some resupplies. We are not fans of the food there but the view cannot cannot be beat at sunset. If you can time it right, eat there. You won’t regret the view!

Beautiful soft fall colors lit up the roadside on section 4.

Beautiful soft fall colors lit up the roadside on section 4.

When we get to go back and finish it I’ll hop back on here and pick up with the final sections and fill you in on how good (or bad they were). I hope this helps people wanting to explore this part of Alabama’s important history and amazing scenic areas. The fall colors here are fantastic. One of the best day trips to see fall colors in Alabama, hands and paws down. My final piece of advice is to not go right after a big rain. We hit mud puddles that were pretty large and it hasn’t even rained lately. Now if you have a 4wd with more clearance than ours, then go after a rain and hang on and have fun!!

Sunset View, section 4.

Sunset View, section 4.

We thought (wrongly) on section 1 & 2 that the mudpuddles would be a) safe to go through at a higher speed and b) necessary to go through at a higher speed because you do NOT want to go slow and get stuck. However, while b) remained true, a) did not. We HIT a *terrible* rock when flooring it through one of the bigger loooong mudpuddles. Horrible noises escaped from the banging and hitting beneath. We are very thankful nothing was broken under there… But you’ve been warned. At least one of the mudholes has rocks in it. It should be against the law lol!

Well, I wish we could go back sooner but it looks like Christmas or maybe New Years, unless it rains a lot, will be the quickest we can get free to drive. Happy hiking, biking, and exploring y’all!

I’ll leave you with a picture of happy Autumn jumping in the woods. how to jump in the woods

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