PTA Site Map / etrail or snailtrail
The Pinhoti Trail
A Southeast Region Appalachian Trail Connector
Northbound snailtrail / Section 10
Northern Terminus / Finish Hike
136.1 ~ Burns Trailhead
119.8 ~ Pine Glen Trailhead
Southern Terminus / Start Hike
Reference Points ~ Coleman Lake Campground, Heflin, AL
Hike Distance ~ 16.3 Miles
Hiking Time vs Distance ~ 30 Minutes = 1 Mile
Trail Blazes ~ Light Blue Vertical Rectangles
Trail Description ~ Moderate ~ Foothills, Watersheds, Short Climbs
For a weekend section hike, you may want to bring two vehicles to the trail so that you can shuttle
yourselves from one end of your chosen section to the other. First, you will need to park your
“finish hike vehicle” at your section’s northern terminus and then drive your “start hike vehicle” down
to your section’s southern terminus.
Northern Terminus / Park Finish Hike Vehicle First
136.1 ~ BURNS TRAILHEAD
Exit I-20 at US 431, east of Oxford, AL.
Go north 0.3 miles to US 78. Turn right.
Go 3.9 miles to AL 9. Turn left.
Go 10.9 miles to CR 55, at the yellow flashing light. Turn right.
Go 4.2 miles to the Burns Trailhead parking area, on the left.
Southern Terminus / Park Start Hike Vehicle
119.8 ~ PINE GLEN CAMPGROUND
From the Burns Trailhead parking area, turn left on CR 55.
Go 4.6 miles to a dirt road, FS 500. Turn right. There is a black mailbox on the right at this
turn with the address-20346.
Go 5.3 miles to the right turn where FS 500 becomes a paved road. Turn right.
Go 2.0 miles to the stop sign. Turn left on FS 500.
Go 0.3 miles to the stop sign. Turn right on FS 500.
Go 4.4 miles to the Pine Glen Campground, on the right.
Southern Terminus / Start Hike
119.8 ~ PINE GLEN CAMPGROUND / FS 500 ~ 950' ~ LC, RW (Photo by TC)
From the campground entrance, turn left on FS 500 and cross the Shoal Creek Bridge and then 119.9 ~ DOUBLE BRIDGES ~ SW
enter the woods on the right.
The trail will follow Shoal Creek for about a mile. This area is rich in history, which includes
the annual spring migration of the Rainbow Family - 1, - 2.
LC, RW ~ This is a great campground on Shoal Creek with a lot of primitive campsites and a
new 3 seater SST Outhouse (Sweet Smelling Toilets). Typical government oxymoron, huh ? !
This Federal Campground cost 3$ a night (2003) and is open year round.
NEXT RW ~ 2.6 miles.
Hiking Alabama Guest Book entry by Tim Lewis: In 1973, I worked as a junior in high school for
the Youth Conservation Corps and part of our job was building the Pinhoti Trail in Sweetwater
Lake, Coleman Lake, Pine Glen area. Its gratifying to know that people use it.
122.1 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW ~ (Photo)
This nice bridge was furnished by the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama. Thanks!122.4 ~ SWEETWATER LAKE DAM ~ 1000' ~ LC, RW
FLOWERING TREE ~ Tulip Poplar ~ Yellow ~ May
AKA Lake 13. This is the first of the three USDA Floodwater Retarding Dams you will come to122.7 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC, RW
on the Pinhoti. The trail crosses over the spillway section of the dam straight in front of you
and then goes around the left side of the lake up to the parking area.
Don't worry too much if you hear wild screaming in the middle of the night, it's just Bigfoot
stepping on a briar or something : )
LC ~ There is a campsite on the main section of the dam in those pines to the right.
NEXT RW ~ 0.3 miles.
This campsite is on a peninsula that goes out in the lake and there is also a nice campsite on122.8 ~ SWEETWATER LAKE PARKING AREA ~ RW ~ (Photo Grey Eagle)
top of the hill on the peninsula.
NEXT RW ~ 0.3 miles.
The trail goes back in the woods behind the Info Board and follows the left side of the lake for 123.0 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ SC, RW
another 1.0 miles.
124.4 ~ LAUREL SHELTER ~ 1100' ~ LC, TS, RW ~ (Photo)
Once you ford the creek, the trail goes straight up to the shelter and then turns left.124.9 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ LC, RW
This is another great site on a creek and the shelter was constructed by the FS / YCC (Youth
Conservation Corps) in 1976.
NEXT RW ~ 0.5 miles.
UPDATE 2004 ~ Two new sets of steps and a sheet metal covered cooking shelf were added by
the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White ~ May
LC ~ Once you cross the creek, there is an old fire ring beside a long log about 20' downstream.125.0 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW
NEXT RW ~ 2.1 miles.
125.1 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW
125.3 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW
16 of the 20 bridges on the AL section of the trail were paid for and built by trail clubs, 125.8 ~ FS 553 CROSSING ~ 1220' ~ (Photo)
SCOUTS, generous hikers or the FS. I say a word of thanks every time I cross one. The
Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama has plans to build 5 more. Thanks guys !
The trail goes straight across the road.125.9 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW
126.1 ~ SHOAL CREEK CHURCH ~ 1180' ~ (Photo)
The Shoal Creek Church is one of the six remaining hewn log churches in Alabama and was built 126.2 ~ SHOAL CREEK CHURCH ROAD ~ (Photo)
between 1885 and 1890. The oldest gravestone in the cemetery is dated 1811 ~ 1895.
WILDFLOWER ~ Daffodil ~ Yellow ~ February
The trail goes straight across the road.126.6 ~ COLEMAN LAKE VIEW ~ 1220' ~ (Photo)
AKA Lake 8. It has a surface area of 21 acres.126.7 ~ ATA / AHS BRIDGE ~ SW ~ (Photo)
The old bridge was damaged by an uprooted tree and was replaced as a National Trails Day127.0 ~ COLEMAN LAKE FOOTBRIDGE ~ 1160' ~ LC, RW, HS ~ (Photo)
project in June, 2004 by the Alabama Trails Association and an American Hiking Society
Maintenance Vacation crew. Thanks Guys!
At this point you will come within view of the Coleman Lake Easy Access Trail footbridge down127.1 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW
on the right. The Pinhoti bypasses the bridge continues straight on through.
LC, RW, HS ~ You can cross over the bridge here and go 0.5 miles to the newly renovated
(2002?) Coleman Lake Campground. This is a Federal Campground that cost $12 (2004) a night
and is open April 15 through November ? (changes). There are 2 new bath houses with HOT
SHOWERS !! that you can use ($2), lots of campsites with full RV hook ups, primitive camping
and also a beach with a bath house. Hmmm... Did I mention HOT SHOWERS !!?
NEXT RW ~ 0.4 miles.
127.4 ~ ALUMINUM BRIDGE ~ RW ~ (Photo) ~ (Photo)
127.5 ~ WOODPECKER FARM (next 1.6 miles) ~ (Photo)
Thanks to Earl Stewart, Shoal Creek District Ranger, Talladega National Forest, Born Teacher127.7 ~ COLEMAN LAKE TRAILHEAD ~ 1200' ~ (Photo)
for this information. The best I can figure is that the Red Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat
Restoration is really just a small project inside of a big project. As for the Woodpeckers, they
are doing really well. The FS started off with 3 active nests and now (April 20, 2003) there are
definitely 12, possibly 13 active nests. The Long Leaf Pines have to be at least 60 to 80
years old for the Woodpeckers to build their nests in them, something to do with Red Heart
Disease. These trees are not quite that old, about 50 years, so the Rangers sped up the process
a little by picking out trees that had a minimum 15" diameter, carved out a hole at a certain
height and inserted wooden bird houses in them. Some of them are inhabited within hours and
the rest within a day.
Now, the bigger project is to restore the forest to its original state; before Pale Face came
over and clear cut the entire North American continent 2 or 3 times. The Woodpecker Farm is
basically what 92,000,000 acres of the Southeast looked like before the invasion; completely
dominated by very mature Long Leaf Pines up to 400 years old and Oak Hickory as the canopy,
grasses on the ground, and very little in between. The Pinhoti passes through this project area
from trail mile 127.5 to 129.1. So, if you are around 350 years from now, stop by and see how
the project turned out!
WILDFLOWER ~ Butterfly Weed ~ Orange ~ May
WILDFLOWER ~ Iron Weed ~ Purple ~ August
The Pinhoti bypasses the trailhead parking area side trail and goes straight through.127.7 ~ FS 500 CROSSING ~ 1200' ~ LC, RW, HS
At the sign board you can go left 30 yards up the side trail to the trailhead.
The trail goes straight across the road.129.1 ~ TREE LINE / HORSE TRAIL CROSSING
Once you're across, the trail begins the gradual climb up the Rattlesnake Mountain ridge. You
will reach the peak at the 129.5 ~ FS 540 Crossing. All along through here you will see new
growth Long Leaf Pines. They look more like Pine bushes for the first few years while they
grow their tap root.
LC, RW, HS ~ You can go right on FS 500 for 0.6 miles to the Coleman Lake Campground. It is
closed in the winter from November ? (changes) to April 15.
The trail goes straight across the horse trail and back into the "unnatural woods".129.5 ~ FS 540 CROSSING / RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER (missing) ~ 1325'
This is the end of the Woodpecker Farm. The Forest Service maintains an Equestrian
campground and 35 miles of horse trails in this area.
AREA ~ Rattlesnake Mountain
The trail goes straight across the road.130.3 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW
RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER: The tower site is appx. 3.1 miles off trail from
here. Turn left on FS 540 and go 0.8 miles to the dead end / T intersection at FS 532.
Turn right. Go appx. 0.3 miles to the first dirt road on the left, FS 536. Turn left. Go appx.
2.0 miles to the dead end / turnaround at the tower site.
Keep an eye out through here for Partridge Berry. It resembles a small clump of 3 leaf Clover 130.4 ~ 131.9 ~ CHIPMUNK CANYON ~ SC, RW
with tiny red berries. Just past the crossing there is a set of steps on the left that will take
you closer to the creek and another to bring you back up.
NEXT RW ~ 0.1 miles.
Yes, I saw a Chipmunk here last year when I was measuring this section the first time. This is 130.6 ~ CHIP'S CAMPSITE ~ LC, RW
one of many places along the Pinhoti that you would write home to Mom about. Take your time.
NEXT RW ~ 0.2 miles.
AUTHORS NOTE ~ For the last three years, this guide has listed all of the areas on the
Pinhoti that resemble this one as Canyons. In January 2004 I went on a group hike in this
section with the Little River Canyon Field School and the Anniston Outdoor Association. I took
this opportunity to ask the group leader of the LRCFS, Renee Morrison, if Canyon People would
be insulted if I called these places around here Canyons. She just smiled and said Gorge would
probably be a better name. :) That was a smile wasn't it?? So, the authenticity of the 11
Canyons named in this guide are under (dubious) re-consideration. Sigh...
The fire ring is on the left just past the creek crossing.130.7 ~ DALE'S CAMPSITE / CASCADE ~ SC, RW ~ (Photo)
WILDFLOWER ~ Buckeye ~ Red ~ April
NEXT RW ~ 0.1 miles.
There are 2 creek crossings here and the campsite is on the right just past the second130.8 ~ SON OF BILLY GOAT CAMPSITE ~ 840' ~ SC, RW
crossing. There is a nice cascade just a few yards north of the camp.
NEXT RW ~ 0.1 miles.
Yes, I saw the son of a Billy Goat (Toby Woodward) here last year when I was measuring this 131.6 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW
section the first time. Actually, it was a hiker from New Hampshire whose trail name was Son
of Billy Goat and his dad was called, duh!, Billy Goat. He was hiking solo from the original
beginning of the Appalachian Trail at Mt. Oglethorpe, to Montgomery. We stopped and talked
for a couple of hours before he hiked on down to the Coleman Lake Trailhead. One of the
Alabama Hiking Trail Society members (Jay Hudson) was going to meet him there and take him
out for a steak! At the time, I wondered if Goats were carnivores, but I didn't say anything. : )
NEXT RW ~ 0.8 miles.
WILDFLOWER ~ Bloodroot ~ White ~ March
NEXT RW ~ 0.8 miles
There is another set of old rock steps here that take you down to the crossing and then back up.131.9 ~ ROCK ISLAND CROSSING ~ RW ~ 833'
NEXT RW ~ 0.3 miles.
The trail crosses over the creek diagonally to the right.132.3 ~ TWENTY FEET CREEK ~ RW ~ (Photo - Grey Eagle)
NEXT RW ~ 0.4 miles.
FORDING HAZARD ~ This section of the creek is only about 6” deep and has room to spread
out after a heavy rain. Use caution.
Yes, the creek is Twenty Feet wide. No, you don't have to ford it. There is a nice clear entry132.5 ~ TURNHILL ROAD SWITCHBACKS /
to the water here. If you have noticed flowers wilting along the trail as you pass by, they may
appreciate it if you took advantage of this great spot : ) Just before you reach the upcoming
switchback, look for a large patch of Creeping Juniper, which resemble small dark green 3 inch
umbrellas, on the left and right and ahead and behind and up the hill and down the hill...
WILDFLOWER ~ Day Flower ~ Blue ~ July
NEXT RW ~ 2.3 miles.
NORTHWEST CHOCCOLOCCO WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA BOUNDARY132.6 ~ TEN TOES
The trail leaves the creek here and starts the switchback at a well marked left turn. You are
leaving the CWMA here at the northwest boundary.
Here the trail weaves in and out of a series of points and coves. If you could see this 2 mile 134.6 ~ CHOCCOLOCCO CREEK WATERSHED ~ 760' ~ LC, RW ~ (Photo)
section from the air, it might resemble two big feet. I think there may be more than 10 points,
but I ran out of, ah, well, never mind...
The trail goes across the top of the dam and then turns right on an old service road and goes 134.7 ~ CHOCCOLOCCO CREEK SHELTER ~ 700' ~ LC, TS, RW ~ (Photo)
around the left side of the lake for a while.
The top of the dam is a great place to camp and there are no fire rings up here because it
makes it hard on the mowers. The USDA calls this Floodwater Retarding Dam #2. It was built
in 1968 and the lake has a surface area of 31 acres.
INDIAN TRAIL TREE (not authentic) ~ Look for the tree on the left between here and
NEXT RW ~ 1.5 miles.
Go across the top of the dam and then turn left on the old service road. Follow this road down 135.0 ~ RATTLESNAKE POINT ~ 800'
about 100 yards to the shelter, on the right.
LC ~ There is an old road bed about 50 yards straight out in front of the shelter with plenty
of soft flat spots.
RW ~ The water trail is about 200 yards straight out in front of the shelter and goes to a
sand bar on this 20' wide creek.
POTTY TRAIL ~ Look for an old road bed behind the shelter, on the left.
UPDATE ~This is one of the three shelters built by the FS in 2006 with grant money
received after the Pinhoti's designation as a Millennium Legacy Trail. Construction of the
shelter was completed in March, 2006.
A noble and courteous friend lives here and will let you know if she / he is out for a morning 135.1 ~ CHOCC HOLLOW ~ 780' ~ SW
slither. A Root Digger that Earl Shaffer met above Hot Springs, NC, while on The First
Appalachian Trail Thru Hike, put it this way; "A Rattlesnake's a gentleman. He'll sing and let
you know he's there, but a Copperhead just lays there and lashes out at ye."
WILDFLOWER ~ Birds Foot Violet ~ Purple ~ March
TREE ~ Wild Pine
This quiet little hollow has a small spring running through it and lots of old trees including136.1 ~ BURNS TRAILHEAD / CR 55 ~ 846' ~ RW ~ (Photo)
Pines and Shag Bark Hickory.
The trail goes straight across CR 55 and enters the Dugger Mountain Wilderness.Northern Terminus / Finish Hike
Continue for another 0.1 miles to the trailhead connector, on the left at the trail sign. Turn
here and go 0.1 miles to the Burns Trailhead parking area. The log cabin and outbuildings here
are the former home of Mr. Pink E. Burns. Mr. Burns died just a few years ago at the age of 87.
He lived his whole life in this cabin and was able to survive through the bounty of the forest.
He was also a great story teller and entertained many a hiker through the years on his front
porch. He also didn't mind if you brought along Moon Pies and Cokie Colas when you came to sit
RW ~ Go left on CR 55 for 0.1 miles to Jones Branch, running along the right side of the road.
NEXT RW ~ 8.2 miles.
PLANT ~ Ground Pine ~ Green ~ March (just before CR 55 crossing)
WILDBERRY ~ Beauty Berry ~ Purple ~ July
PTA Site Map / Top of Page ^-^
Section 10 Hike Planner
CS ~ Convenience Store
TT ~ Trail Town
SC ~ Small Camp
127.0, 130.4, 130.7, 138.8
LC ~ Large Camp
119.8, 122.4, 122.7, 124.4, 127.0, 130.6, 134.6,
TS ~ Trail Shelter
SW ~ Seasonal Water
119.9, 122.1, 125.0, 125.1, 125.3, 125.9, 126.7,
RW ~ Reliable Water
119.8, 122.4, 122.7, 122.8, 123.0, 124.4, 124.9,
127.0, 127.4, 127.7, 130.3, 130.4, 130.6, 130.7,
130.8, 131.6, 131.9, 132.3, 134.6, 134.7, 136.1
HS ~ Hot Shower