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The Pinhoti Trail
A Southeast Region Appalachian Trail Connector

Pinhoti Trail History

I'm the new guy on the block (2000). Although my experiences on the
Pinhoti began in the late 1970's, it wasn't until the beginning of this
century that I began seeing it as more than a recreational opportunity.

At one point in the trail's history, it began at Clairmont Gap and traveled northeast up to
Coleman Lake for a total of 66.5 miles. The map on the right shows the trail as a dotted
line from Clairmont Gap to Coleman Lake. Click on the map over on the right for a larger
view. You can also click on that view for a larger view. Up until a year ago this map was on
the USFS web site and I added all of the newer trailheads.

Obviously, I know very little about the Pinhoti's history. So, for the time being this page
will just be a depository for any little bits and pieces that I come across.


1973 ~ The Beginning of the Pinhoti Trail
The Pinhoti Trail was initially begun in the early 1970's by the US Forest Service. The
trail was the brainchild of Forest Service employees Jim Bylsma and Bobby Bledsoe.

Construction of the first portion of the trail begins in the Shoal Creek / Coleman Lake
area north of US 78 and I-20.

Construction of the second portion of the trail begins from Cheaha State Park south to
Adams Gap.

All of this work on the Pinhoti Trail was done, and done well, by the USFS.

Copied from the Hiking Alabama Guest Book, 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 the Pine Glen, Sweetwater Lake and Coleman Lake
area. It's gratifying to know that people use it.

1976 ~ Lower Shoal Shelter Construction / Section 9
email to Solo ~ May 2009
I was perusing your site, reading about the Pinhoti Trail.  It's been years since we last
visited the trail.  My interest dates back to 1976 when I worked for the USFS in the
Youth Conservation Corps.  That year one of the jobs we had was trail maintenance up
near Cheaha MT.

Another job we had, which is why I am writing you, was shelter construction.  In 1976 the
YCC built Lower Shoal Shelter.  You have it listed as a FS project in 1984.  Believe me,
the YCC built it.  The week my team worked that job, the shelter floor and sides had
already been built. (Each of the eight weeks of work with YCC was a different job in a
different place.)

For our week, we hauled in by wheelbarrow the shingles, nails, more lumber, paint / stain.  
The truck parked on a fire road and we hiked in from N to S (I believe) along a narrow
trail on the side of a hill / mountain. (Low side was on our left as we hiked in.)  We carried
bundles of shingles on our shoulders or heads (we wore safety helmets).

One memorable time: we had the wheelbarrow fully loaded with supplies and the guy
pushing it lost balance on that narrow trail and the contents spilled out, tumbling down the
hill.  It took us a while to retrieve everything and get back to work.

After hauling supplies in, that week we stained the wood and I believe the guys laid
shingles. As I remember it, it was a hard, yet enjoyable week.

Debbie Collins

1977 / 1978 ~ Trail Construction / Sections 6, 9 and 10
The 21.5 mile first portion of the Pinhoti Trail (Shoal Creek/Coleman Lake) is completed
by the USFS, giving the Pinhoti a total distance of 21.5 miles.

The 11.3 mile second portion of the Pinhoti Trail (Cheaha south to Adams Gap) is completed
by the USFS, giving the Pinhoti a total distance of 32.8 miles.

1983 or 1984 ~ Trail Construction / Sections 7 and 8
The 27.1 mile third portion of the Pinhoti Trail (Cheaha State park north to Shoal
Creek/Coleman Lake area) is completed by the USFS, giving the Pinhoti a total distance
of 59.9 miles.

1983 ~ Cheaha Wilderness Designation / Section 6
7490 acres south of Cheaha State Park was designated as the Cheaha Wilderness. The
dedication ceremony was held at Cheaha State Park on the south end of Hernandez Peak
in mid-August.

1983 ~ Linking the Pinhoti to the Appalachian Trail
Alabama Wilderness Coalition co-chair and Pinhoti Trail advocate Michael Leonard,
announces at the Cheaha Wilderness dedication a plan to link the Pinhoti Trail to the
Appalachian Trail.

1985 ~ Connecting Alabama to the Appalachian Trail
The formal effort to link Alabama to the Appalachian Trail began in February, 1985 with
the incorporation of the Alabama Trails Association, whose membership began
construction of Section 13 at the High Point Trailhead / US 278 and going north to the
Georgia state line.

1986 ~ Northern Forest Service Boundary Extended
The US Forest Service receives 3 million dollars from Congress to purchase 6000 acres
of land from the Nature Conservancy. This purchase extended the northern boundary of
the Talladega National Forest from Dugger Mountain north to the Cherokee / Cleburne
County line, which also provided a trail corridor for the Pinhoti. This land includes Oakey
Mountain, Wilson Ridge, Maxwell Gap and Augusta Mine Ridge.

1986 ~ Laurel Shelter Construction ~ Section 10
The Laurel Shelter was built by the USFS and the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama.

1988 ~ Cheaha Wilderness Expanded
An unknown number of acres are added to the wilderness.

1990 ~ Permanent Trail Easement for Section 13 Granted
Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Willis sign a Permanent Trail Easement for the Pinhoti across 5 miles
of their property, which includes Davis and Indian Mountains, in April of 1990.

1995 ~ Blue Mountain Shelter Construction / Section 7
The Blue Mountain Shelter was constructed by a private contractor hired by the USFS.

1999 ~ Dugger Wilderness Designation / Section 11
The 9220 acre area surrounding Dugger Mountain was designated as the Dugger Mountain

2000 ~ Congressional Designation
The Pinhoti Trail was formally designated a Millennium Legacy Trail in a ceremony at the
White House by Hillary Clinton.

2002 ~ Trail Construction / Section 13
Copied from the ATA website;
By Bob Williams
The Alabama Trails Association completed the trail (Section 13) this year when
volunteers brought the trail to the (GA) state line near Piedmont, capping an effort that
began in 1985.

2004 ~ Davis Mountain Shelter Construction / Section 13
The Davis Mountain Shelter was built by the Alabama Trails Association, Georgia Pinhoti
Trail Association, Horn Mountain Trail Club, Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama and many

2005 ~ Hawkins Hollow Tent Platform Const. / Section 13
The Hawkins Hollow Tent Platform was built by the Alabama Trails Association.

2005 ~ Trail Construction / Section 4
An 18 mile southern extension of the Pinhoti Trail, traveling from the old Pinhoti southern
terminus at Porter's Gap / AL 77 south to Bull Gap / AL 148, was completed by the
USFS, Trails Unlimited, Horn Mountain Trail Club, Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama and
the Alabama Trails Association.

2006 ~ N. Dugger & Oakey Shelter Construction / Section 12
The North Dugger Mountain and Oakey Mountain Shelters were built by a private
contractor hired by the USFS.

2006 ~ Choccolocco Creek Shelter Construction / Section 10
The Choccolocco Creek Shelter was built by a private contractor hired by the USFS.

2007 ~ Trail Construction / Section 3
A appx. 12.5 mile southern extension traveling from the old Pinhoti southern terminus at
Bull Gap / AL 148 south to the southern boundary of the Talladega National Forest at
FS 603A began with the laying of the flag line by the USFS.

2008 ~ Trail Construction / Section 13
The Alabama Trails Association completed 2.6 miles of new trail from the Georgia State
Line north to the Jackson Chapel Trailhead.

2008 ~ Porters Gap Trailhead Construction / Section 5
A new trailhead parking area was completed at Porter's Gap by the USFS and the
Alabama Department of Transportation. The new parking area was built because the re-
routing of AL 77 took the highway through the old parking area.

2008 ~ Pinhoti / Appalachian Trail Connection Dedication
A 10,000 pound limestone and granite boulder with dedication plaque was placed at Cheaha
State Park (Section 6) on the north end of Hernandez Peak commemorating the
connection of the Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail.

2008 ~ Spring Creek Shelter Construction / Section 13
The Spring Creek Shelter, at mile 172.0, was completed by the Alabama Trails
Association on the 28th of September. This shelter is located 0.8 miles north of the
AL / GA state line, making it the first trail shelter in Georgia.

2008 ~ Trail Construction / Section 3
Construction of the Pinhoti over Rebecca Mountain began in September. The work is being
done by the USFS, the USFS Trails Unlimited crew from California, The Alabama Hiking
Trail Society and hikers.

2009 ~ Burns Trailhead / Section 11
Here is a quote from The Anniston Star, Thursday, March 12 -
"Pinky Burns' cabin, a Rabbittown landmark since the late 1800's, burned to the ground
Tuesday night ( Mar. 10) and the three people suspected to be responsible for (setting
fire to) it are being held at the Calhoun County jail, according to the Sheriff's Office."
"The log cabin's two chimneys are all that remain of the building, which belonged to Pinky
Burns, a locally famous trapper, hunter and storyteller who lived there until his death in
1999 at the age of 81."
The cabin was located at Pinhoti Trail mile 136.1 ~ Burns Trailhead.

2009 ~ Bull Gap Trailhead Construction / Section 4
The new trailhead parking area on the south end of Section 4, at Bull Gap, has been
completed by the US Forest Service.

2009 ~ Rebecca Mountain / Section 3
May13 ~ Courtesy of Mike Leonard ~ Continued progress on the Pinhoti.
In the last week or two, the Conservation Fund closed on the 1100 or so acre Evergreen
Tract on the crest of Rebecca Mountain at the south end of the Talladega National
Forest (Section 3).
We expect the U.S. Forest Service to buy it from the Fund by early June. This means
that the final and southernmost portion of the Pinhoti in the Talladega National Forest
can be built along a dramatic ridge crest route.
( $550,000 ? ) of the ( $1,500,000 ? ) cost was covered by private funds from a
conservation donor based in N.C. That private money had much to do with the U.S. Forest
Service making it a high priority project.

2009 ~ Rebecca Mountain / Section 3
As planned, the Forest Service has purchased the Evergreen Tract from the
Conservation Fund and the Pinhoti Trail corridor through here is now protected by the

Copied from FS Today (FS e-mag)
NASCAR, Conservation Fund Procure Pinhoti Trail Lands
Regional Forester Liz Agpaoa recently joined NASCAR driver Bobby Allison and the Ryan
Newman Foundation at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama for a “Racing for Wildlife”
fundraising event announcing additional funds for a special land acquisition in Region 8.

Because of the efforts such as this event, the Pinhoti National Trail now stretches
across 133 miles of the Talladega and Shoal Creek Ranger Districts.

The Conservation Fund, NASCAR and the Forest Service teamed up to add 1,129 acres to
the Talladega National Forest in Alabama.  The acquisition is significant because the eight-
mile crest of Rebecca Mountain is a major ridge on the Appalachian Mountains, and this
land completes the Pinhoti Trail on National Forest System land in the state.

The government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund contributed $1.5 million of federal
funding toward purchasing the Rebecca Mountain land from the Conservation Fund.  An
anonymous donor provided the $450,000 needed to complete the $1.97 million
transaction.  The Conservation Fund supported early negotiations and defrayed costs by
providing an appraisal and a survey.

Forest Supervisor Miera Nagy said “The new addition allows the Pinhoti Trail to connect
people to some of the most spectacular landscapes for exercise, adventure and solitude.”

2010 ~ Trail Signs
During the months of January and February, 2010, appx. 50 trail info signs have been
placed on the trail. These signs were furnished by the USFS - Shoal Creek Ranger
District of the Talladega National Forest.

The area covered is the northern half of Alabama's side of the Pinhoti Trail in the
Talladega National Forest from the 96.7 ~ US 431 Trailhead to the 161.1 ~ High Point
Trailhead, Sections 8 thru 12.

The Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama has produced and donated comparable signs to the
Alabama Trails Association that cover Section 13, from the 161.1 ~ High Point Trailhead
up to the 173.9 ~ Jackson Chapel Trailhead. This section covers the Alabama Pinhoti from
the northern boundary of the Talladega National Forest to just past the Georgia state

All of these signs were installed by volunteers from Alabama's Pinhoti Trail Clubs.

These signs have been placed at:
All trailheads
All paved roads
All usable dirt roads
All trail shelters
and the Dugger Mountain Wilderness

At each location, except the shelters, there are two signs. One shows mileage to
southbound landmarks and the other shows mileage to northbound landmarks. The shelters
have one sign showing mileage to both north and south landmarks.

PTA Site Map  /  Top of Page ^-^
Legacy Trail

Old Trail Sign
South of Coleman Lake
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Choccolocco Creek Dam
Section 10
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Terrapin Creek Dam
Section 12
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Augusta Mine Ridge
Section 12
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Horn Mountain
Section 4
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