​​​pinhoti national recreation trail / pinhoti millennium legacy trail

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current weather @ pinhoti trail mid-point / 181.3 ~ cave spring trailhead.

section 10 / snailtrail / northbound.


hiking directions.

DISTANCE ~ 16.3

CUMULATIVE ~ 116.6 ~ 132.9

ELEVATION ~ L 700' ~ H 1325'

WOODS TRAIL ~ MODERATE

LANDMARK ~ COLEMAN LAKE

LOCAL TOWN ~ JACKSONVILLE


SOUTHERN TERMINUS ~ START HIKE

CONTINUE CHOCCOLOCCO HIGHLANDS

CONTINUE RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN

0.0 ~ PINE GLEN CAMPGROUND / FS 500 ~ LC, RW ~ 950'
The north trail goes left from the parking area and goes back in the woods on the right, just past the Shoal Creek bridge.
LC, RW ~ This is a great campground on Shoal Creek with a lot of primitive campsites and a new (2003) 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.
HISTORY ~ 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, and Pine Glen area. It’s gratifying to know that people use it.
This area is rich in history, which includes the annual spring migration of the Rainbow Family.
0.1 ~ DOUBLE BRIDGES ~ SW
2.3 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW
FLOWERING TREE ~ Tulip Poplar ~ Yellow
HISTORY ~ This nice bridge was furnished by the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama. Thanks!
2.6 ~ SWEETWATER LAKE DAM ~ LC, RW ~ 1000'
AKA Lake 13. This is the first of the three USDA Floodwater Retarding Dams you will come to 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.

Big Foot sighting reported on bfro.net!

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

2.8 ~ PENINSULA ~ LC, RW
This campsite is on a peninsula that goes out in the lake and there is also a nice campsite on top of the hill on the peninsula.
NEXT RW ~ 0.3 miles
3.0 ~ SWEETWATER LAKE PARKING AREA ~ RW
The trail goes back in the woods behind the Info Board and follows the left side of the lake for another 1.0 miles.
3.2 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ SC, RW
NEXT RW ~ 1.4 miles
4.6 ~ LAUREL SHELTER ~ 1100' ~ LC, TS, RW ~ 1100'
Once you ford the creek, the trail goes straight up to the shelter and then turns left.
NEXT RW ~ 0.5 miles
WILDFLOWER ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White ~ May
HISTORY ~ This is another great site on a creek and the shelter was constructed by the FS.
UPDATE 2004 ~ Two new sets of steps and a sheet metal covered cooking shelf were added by the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama.
5.1 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW
NEXT RW ~ 2.1 miles
5.2 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW
5.5 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW
HISTORY ~ 16 of the 20 bridges on the AL section of the Pinhoti were paid for and built by trail clubs, 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 !
6.0 ~ FS 553 CROSSING ~ 1220'
The trail goes straight across the road.
6.1 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW
6.3 ~ SHOAL CREEK CHURCH ~ REGISTERED HISTORIC LANDMARK ~ 1180’
WILDFLOWER ~ Daffodil ~ Yellow ~ January
HISTORY ~ The Shoal Creek Church is one of the six remaining hewn log churches in Alabama and was built between 1885 and 1890. The oldest gravestone in the cemetery is dated 1811 ~ 1895.
6.4 ~ SHOAL CREEK CHURCH ROAD
The trail goes straight across the road.
6.8 ~ COLEMAN LAKE VIEW ~ 1220'
AKA Lake 8. It has a surface area of 21 acres.
6.9 ~ ATA ~ AHS BRIDGE ~ SW
HISTORY ~ The old bridge was damaged by an uprooted tree and was replaced as a National Trails Day project in June, 2004 by the Alabama Trails Association and an American Hiking Society Maintenance Vacation crew. Thanks Guys!
7.2 ~ COLEMAN LAKE CAMPGROUND FOOTBRIDGE ~ LC, RW, HS ~ 1160'
At this point you will come within view of the Coleman Lake Easy Access Trail footbridge down on the right. The Pinhoti bypasses the bridge and 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 for $2 if you don’t plan on camping, 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
7.3 ~ BRIDGE ~ SW
7.6 ~ ALUMINUM BRIDGE ~ RW
NEXT RW ~ 0.3  miles
7.7 ~ WOODPECKER FARM (next 1.6 miles)
HISTORY ~ Thanks to Earl Stewart, Shoal Creek District Ranger, Talladega National Forest, Born Teacher, 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
Iron Weed ~ Purple ~ August
7.9 ~ COLEMAN LAKE TRAILHEAD ~ 1200'
The Pinhoti bypasses the trailhead parking area side trail and goes straight through. At the sign board you can go left 30 yards up the side trail to the trailhead.
7.9 ~ FS 500 CROSSING ~ LC, RW, HS ~ 1200'
The trail goes straight across the road. Once you're across, the trail begins the gradual climb up the Rattlesnake Mountain ridge. You will reach the peak at the 9.7 ~ 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.
NEXT RW ~ 2.6 miles
9.3 ~ TREE LINE ~ HORSE TRAIL CROSSING
The trail goes straight across the horse trail and back into the "unnatural woods". This is the end of the Woodpecker Farm. The Forest Service maintains an Equestrian campground and 35 miles of horse trails in this area.
9.7 ~ FS 540 CROSSING ~ RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER (MISSING) ~ 1325'
The trail goes straight across the road.
RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER ~ The tower site is app. 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 app. 0.3 miles to the first dirt road on the left, FS 536. Turn left. Go app. 2.0 miles to the dead end ~ turnaround at the tower site.
SUMMIT ~ Rattlesnake Mountain ~ 1510' ~ #97 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama. You are now crossing over the ridge.
10.5 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW
Keep an eye out through here for Partridge Berry. It resembles a small clump of 3 leaf Clover 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.
10.6 ~ CHIPMUNK CANYON ~ SC, RW
Yes, I saw a Chipmunk here last year when I was measuring this section the first time. This is 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 ~ Since 2002 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...
Update 2016 ~ No disrespect Renee, but I’m still re-considering calling these “canyons”.
10.8 ~ CHIP'S CAMPSITE ~ LC, RW
The fire ring is on the left just past the creek crossing.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Buckeye ~ Red ~ March
NEXT RW ~ 0.1 miles.
10.9 ~ DALE'S CAMPSITE ~ CASCADE ~ SC, RW
There are 2 creek crossings here and the campsite is on the right, just past the second crossing. There is a nice cascade just a few yards north of the camp.
NEXT RW ~ 0.1 miles.
11.0 ~ SON OF BILLY GOAT CAMPSITE ~ SC, RW ~ 840'
Yes, I saw the son of a Billy Goat (Toby Woodward) here last year when I was measuring this 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
11.8 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW
There is another set of old rock steps here that take you down to the crossing and then back up.
NEXT RW ~ 0.3 miles
12.1 ~ ROCK ISLAND CROSSING ~ RW ~  833'

(named by O'Kenny - ATCA)

The trail crosses over the creek diagonally to the right.
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.
12.5 ~ TWENTY FEET CREEK ~ RW
Yes, the creek is Twenty Feet wide. There is a nice clear entry to the water here. Taken a bath lately? 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
12.7 ~ TURNHILL ROAD SWITCHBACKS

(named by O'Kenny - ATCA)

NORTHWEST CHOCCOLOCCO WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA BOUNDARY
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.
12.8 ~ TEN TOES
Here the trail weaves in and out of a long series of points and coves. If you could see this 2 mile section from the air, it might resemble two big feet. I think there may be more than 10 points and coves, but I ran out of, ah, well, never mind...
14.8 ~ CHOCCOLOCCO CREEK WATERSHED ~ 760' ~ LC, RW
The trail goes across the top of the dam and then turns right on an old service road and goes around the left side of the lake for a while.
LC ~ 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 FS mower crew.
INDIAN TRAIL TREE (not authentic) ~ Look for the tree on the left between here and Rattlesnake Point.
HISTORY ~ The USDA calls this Floodwater Retarding Dam #2. It was built in 1968 and the lake has a surface area of 31 acres.
14.9 ~ CHOCCOLOCCO CREEK SHELTER ~ 700' ~ LC, TS, RW
Go across the top of the dam and then turn left on the old service road. Follow this road down 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 100 yards straight out in front of the shelter and goes to a sand bar on this 20’ wide creek.
NEXT RW ~ 1.4 miles

POTTY TRAIL ~ Look for an old road bed behind the shelter, on the left.
HISTORY ~ 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.
15.2 ~ RATTLESNAKE POINT ~ 800'
WILDFLOWER ~ Birds Foot Violet ~ Purple ~ March
TREE ~ Wild Pine
HISTORY ~ A noble and courteous friend lives here and will let you know if she ~ he is out for a morning 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."
15.3 ~ CHOCC HOLLOW ~ 780' ~ SW
This quiet little hollow has a small spring running through it and lots of old trees including Pines and Shag Bark Hickory.
16.3 ~ BURNS TRAILHEAD ~ CR 55 ~ 846'
The trail goes straight across CR 55 and enters the Dugger Mountain Wilderness. Continue for 0.1 miles to the trailhead parking area side trail. Turn left at the trail sign and go 100 yards to the parking area.
NORTHERN TERMINUS ~ FINISH HIKE


hiker services.
CS ~ Convenience Store ~ Mom and Pop stores
TT ~ Trail Town ~ Large enough for grocery stores
SC ~ Small Campsite ~ At least one tent site
LC ~ Large Campsite ~ At least three tent sites
TS ~ Trail Shelter ~ Three sided, open front
SW ~ Seasonal Water ~ Dry a few days after rain.
RW ~ Reliable Water ~ Always available
HS ~ Hot Shower ~ On Trail - Off Trail

driving directions.
USE ODOMETER OR TRIP METER (NO REALLY :)
NORTHERN TERMINUS ~ FINISH HIKE
PARK FINISH HIKE VEHICLE FIRST
136.1 ~ BURNS TRAILHEAD
Exit I-20 at Exit 191, US 431S, 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 ~ START HIKE
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.


^ climb up.