Alabama State Route 281
|Maintained by ALDOT|
|Length:||26.834 mi (43.185 km)|
|Existed:||1995 – present|
|South end:||Talladega National Forest near Mount Cheaha State Park in Clay County|
| SR-49 near Mount Cheaha
US-431 southeast of Oxford
|North end:||US-78 / SR-9 west of Heflin|
State Route 281 in Alabama, also known as SR-281 and as Talladega Scenic Drive, extends from U.S. Highway 78/SR-4 west of Heflin to the intersection of two unpaved forest roads in the Talladega National Forest. Running the crest of the Talladega Mountains, Alabama's highest range, SR-281 was originally an unpaved forest route known as Skyway Motorway prior to the reconstruction into a paved scenic highway. SR-281 connects traffic to Cheaha State Park, a state park built on top of the highest point in the state, elevation 2,405 feet (733 m).
When first built, the Talladega Scenic Drive was known as State Route 49 and SR-49 Spur. SR-49 Spur extended from where SR-49 ends today to Cheaha Mountain where it continued from there west to Talledega as a narrow county road. In the early 1990s, SR-49 Spur was extended south along the western side of the Talladega Mountains, ending at a remote location in the national forest at the fork of two forest roads, one which was part of the old Skyway Motorway. When work was completed on this extension, SR-49 was truncated south of the Spur and both SR-49 north of the spur and the spur itself were both designated as SR-281.
While far from a complete route through the Talladega Mountains, SR-281 serves to provide access to outdoor recreation in the Talladega National Forest and the highest peaks of the range. However, the stub ending at the south end of the highway has resulted in very low traffic volumes on the route south of Cheaha Mountain and it is unknown if work has or will commence again to connect the highway south to State Route 77. The assumption that a longer route has always been planned due to the high mileages posted on the mile markers along the route is incorrect. ALDOT uses Mile 500 as a "countdown" mile marker, since the eventual length of highway is not known. When State Route 95 was extended from US 84 to the Florida State Line, the same method was used in posting mile markers. Going down from Mile 1 to Mile 0, the next mile was marked Mile 499.
|Clay||Talladega National Forest||470.462||757.135||Talladega Scenic Highway|
|Cleburne||Cheaha State Park||476.982||767.628||SR-49 south|
|497.296||800.320||US-78 (SR-4) / SR-9|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi