pinhoti national recreation trail / pinhoti millennium legacy trail
a southern region appalachian trail connector
* section and mileage numbering system example: "s7 ~ 0.2" / s7 = a section number and 0.2 = a landmark mileage *
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web hits / 29068 during jan 2017
current weather @ pinhoti trail mid-point / 181.3 ~ cave spring trailhead
section 4 / snailtrail / northbound.
DISTANCE ~ 18.0
CUMULATIVE ~ 31.1 ~ 49.1
ELEVATION ~ L 1241' ~ H 1912'
WOODS TRAIL ~ VERY DIFFICULT
LANDMARK ~ HORN MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER
LOCAL TOWN ~ SYLACAUGA
SOUTHERN TERMINUS / START HIKE
CONTINUE TALLADEGA HIGHLANDS
CONTINUE HOLLINS WILDLIFE MGT. AREA
BEGIN HORN MOUNTAIN
0.0 ~ BULLS GAP TRAILHEAD ~ AL 148 ~ RW ~ 1241'
The north trail begins by going left from the parking area for about 20 yards and then goes into the woods on the right. From there the trail gently winds its way up through a 100 or so acre plantation of young Long Leaf Pines until it reaches the top of the ridge at Bull Bluff. The first 1.1 miles of the trail are actually 3 long switchbacks that climb to the top of the ridge. Watch for the sharp right turn at mile 0.1 and the sharp left turn at mile 0.6.
HWMA ~ You are inside the 29,400 acre Hollins Wildlife Management Area and will be until mile 7.0.
RW ~ Go east appx. 1 mile on AL 148, down the hill, to the Hatchet Creek bridge.
WILDFLOWERS ~ Fleabane ~ White ~ May
Huckleberry ~ White ~ April ~ Fruit ~ May
Woodland Sunflower ~ Yellow ~ May
Yellow Star Grass ~ Yellow ~ April
HISTORY 2005 ~ This 18 mile southern extension of the Pinhoti Trail, traveling north from AL 148 at Bulls Gap to the "old" Pinhoti southern terminus at Porter's Gap, was built by the USFS, Trails Unlimited (USFS), Horn Mountain Trail Club, Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama and the Alabama Trails Association in 2005.
HISTORY 2009 ~ Money has been appropriated for a trailhead parking area. Look for construction to begin soon.
HISTORY 2009 ~ The trailhead parking area was completed by the Forest Service in May, 09.
0.4 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 1382'
Even as big as this spring looks, it dries up a day or two after a good rain.
0.5 ~ LONG LEAF PINE PLANTATION
From here up to Bull Bluff you will be passing through a large Long Leaf Pine plantation.
HISTORY ~ This is part of the Forest Service's effort to restore some of the Talladega National Forest to its original state: a Long Leaf ecosystem with Long Leaf Pines, Hickory Oak, small shrubs and grasses.
TREE ~ Long Leaf Pine
1.1 ~ BULL BLUFF ~ 1565'
The trail goes a short distance above the top of this bluff. Be prepared to see one of the 5 best views on the Pinhoti, from the trail.
2.2 ~ POWER LINE CROSSING ~ 1744'
Here is a fair view of Rebecca Mountain, on the left, through the right of way. You can see one of her skinny signal towers up on a peak at 1523’.
3.2 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ 1627'
The trail goes diagonally, to the left, across the road to the east side of the ridge.
HISTORY ~ FS 600 (-1) was part of a Civilian Conservation Corps road project called the Skyway Motorway. In the 1930's it traveled from Sylacauga, AL to Borden Springs, AL.
3.7 ~ FS 600 CROSSING
The trail goes straight across the road back to the west side of the ridge.
6.5 ~ FARKLEBERRY ROCK
At the top of the switchbacks there is a head high rock overhang that's surrounded by several ancient Farkleberry bushes. Farkleberry wine is made from the berries.
6.6 ~ HIGH TENSION POWER LINE CROSSING ~ 1474’
The trail crosses under these lines along the crest of this rocky ridge, so there are large east and west views.
7.0 ~ NORTH HOLLINS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA BOUNDARY
END OF HOLLINS WILDLIFE MGT AREA
You are now leaving the 30,640(?) acre managed hunting area.
7.5 ~ HEATH CLIFFS ~ SC ~ 1700'
HISTORY 2001 ~ Friends have placed a large wooden cross out by the rocks as a memorial to Mr. Heath. Some of the local guys that I work with told me that Mr. Heath fell to his death here.
DOB ~ Dec. 21st 1956
Ashes to Ashes
Randall D. Heath
DOD ~ Feb. 5th 2001
Please take a minute to think about those you will leave behind to carry on without you before doing anything that may put your life on the line.
7.6 ~ SHERMAN CLIFFS ~ SC ~ 1700’
There is a great southern view of the Rebecca Mountain Ridge from here as she makes her way west toward Sylacauga. There are also views west and northwest toward Birmingham and Talladega.
8.3 ~ ROADBED
The trail turns left on this big, grassy old road and goes up the hill for about 800 yards.
8.4 ~ ROADBED TURN OFF ~ LC
The trail turns off the roadbed to the right, just before it makes a sharp left turn.
LC ~ The roadbed continues uphill to the left for another 0.1 miles to the top of the mountain. There is a large, level food plot for Deer on top and an old fire ring on the far side at the tree line.
8.7 ~ ROCK BLUFF
There is a fair western view here through the tree tops.
9.2 ~ ROCK HOUSE ~ SW
Look for a 10' high overhanging rock on the right that hangs out over the trail. It's a good place to take a break but a bad place to camp if it's raining because the floor is so low.
SW ~ Climb up on top of the rock and then go up the hill 20 yards to FS 600. Turn right on FS 600 and go to the end of the straightaway. Just before the road starts curving uphill to the left there is an old fire road on the left. The fire road is hard to spot because there are a few old logs blocking it. Climb down the bank and go about 50 yards to the spring crossing. If you are very desperate in dry weather, you will need to follow the spring bed much farther downhill to find water.
9.3 ~ SOUTH HORN GAP ~ 1620’
The trail goes straight through the gap. Look for a view of the tower through the trees.
9.8 ~ HORN MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER (standing) ~ 1912’
When the Pinhoti comes to the power line right of way for the tower, turn left and go downhill 100', then the trail goes back in the woods on the right.
TOWER ACCESS TRAIL ~ Once you leave the power line right of way and re-enter the woods, go 50 yards to the Tower Access Trail, on the right. The access trail is marked with white blazes and goes uphill 0.1 miles to the tower.
SITE HISTORY ~ In the late 1930's, when the fire tower site was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this was a beautiful park area. There are 2 rock observation decks and 5 picnic tables still intact. Two of the tables are under a covered shelter that is in pretty bad shape but still standing. There is also a large grove of Oriental bamboo and a stand of old spruce or White Pine trees just below the Tower.
TOWER HISTORY ~ The tower was placed on the National Historic Lookout Register on Jan 17, 2009. The Horn Mountain Fire Lookout Tower was one of several 'ridge top' fire towers erected by the Civil Conservation Corps along the highest points of the mountain range throughout the extent of the Talladega National Forest as a key component of the fire protection measures implemented to safeguard both the national forest and the 75 mile long Skyway Motorway, which began at Sylacauga and ended at Borden Springs.
HISTORY 2006 ~ The picnic shelter has undergone a full, original CCC spec. restoration by several members the USFS, Chris Koehn from the CCC Association, Preacher Collett from the Forest Service Seniors Volunteer Program, the Appalachian Trail Club of Alabama, the Alabama Trails Association and the Horn Mountain Trail Club. Yes, you are allowed to camp anywhere in the National Forest. No, the FS is not encouraging this area to be used as a designated campsite. This is a very important CCC historic site and the USFS and the CCCA would like to restore and preserve it in its original, pristine state. If you do choose to stay here, I'm sure that some serious stealth camping would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
WILDFLOWER ~ Leather Vine ~ Purple / May
SUMMIT ~ Horn Mountain ~ 1912' ~ #18 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama.
9.9 ~ NORTH HORN GAP ~ 1650'
The trail goes straight through the gap.
FLOWERING TREE ~ Redbud ~ Pink ~ January
10.0 ~ 10 MILE MARKER ~ 1680'
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Service Berry ~ White ~ April
TREE ~ American Holly
10.5 ~ SWITCHBACKS / DOWN
PLANT ~ Ground Pine
11.1 ~ WORMY'S PULPIT (LOCAL NAME ~ SUNSET ROCK) ~ 1640'
The trail continues straight across the backside of the bluff.
HISTORY 2005 ~ I don't know much about Wormy (Jerry Sanderson, Lands and Wildlife Officer, TNF, Talladega office) other than the fact that he is a FS "Old Timer" who signed on when he was 18 and has managed to hang on for 37 years. He seemed content (and patient!) one day as we stood before a map and I plied him with question after question. Thanks. Anyone know a good Wormy story? :) There is an unobstructed 50 mile view from the Pulpit. The Horn Mountain Fire Tower and Rebecca Mountain can be seen on the left and Sleeping Giant Mountain, the long ridge that runs behind Talladega, is out in front. The night time light show includes (from left to right) Sylacauga, Birmingham, Childersburg, Pell City and Talladega.
11.3 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ MICROWAVE TOWER ~ 1585'
There"s a great view of the Tower here. It's big, no it's huge, it's, it's, well, it's big and huge!
The trail goes straight across the road and follows the tower driveway for 50' and then goes back in the woods on the right. The trail circles around the east side of this mountain top where the Microwave Tower sits. This part of the mostly ignored east side of the Horn Mountain ridge is home to the headwaters of the West Fork of the regionally popular Hatchet Creek. From AL 77 south to about 5 miles below the Microwave tower, where the west fork joins the East Fork, there are 11 springs that come down off this ridge and start flowing south in an area known as Horn Valley.
11.8 ~ KENNY'S CAMP ~ LC, SW ~ 1566'
LC ~ There is a side trail here on the right leading to a wide gap with plenty of level spots out toward the end of this short finger ridge.
SW ~ There are small seasonal springs before and after the side trail. The best spring is about 50 yards before the side trail on the right. Bushwhack about 100 yards downhill in a small patch of Mountain Laurel. If this spring is dry, then follow the spring bed down another 200 yards to a good creek. Be prepared for a tough uphill climb back to the campsite.
WILDFLOWER ~ Huckleberry ~ White ~ April ~ Fruit ~ May
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White ~ May
12.0 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ THE PINNACLE ~ 12 MILE MARKER ~ 1583'
The trail goes straight across FS 600 onto another dirt road. Follow this road 0.1 miles to the dead end and then the trail continues straight into the woods. The trail is now back on the west side of the ridge.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Oak Leaf Hydrangia ~ White ~ May
12.1 ~ NORTH RIDGE SWITCHBACKS ~ DOWN ~ 1585'
Here you will begin your descent off the Horn Mountain ridge with a series of 24 switchbacks.
12.5 ~ UPPER ROCK SLIDE
12.6 ~ LOWER ROCK SLIDE ~ SW
Sometimes there is water flowing out of the rocks and across the trail.
13.2 ~ WIND RIDGE
14.0 ~ WIND RIDGE ROAD ~ 14 MILE MARKER ~ 980’
The trail turns right onto the road.
14.2 ~ SCOTT LAKE VIEW ~ 760'
Here the trail veers to the right, off Wind Ridge Road, and then skirts around the south side of the lake about 50' above the water.
14.3 ~ WIND RIDGE ROAD
The trail turns right on the road again. The trail ~ road turns right at the bottom of the hill when it reaches the creek and then follows the creek down to the crossing.
14.4 ~ CREEK CROSSING ~ RW ~ 720’
The trail ~ road crosses the creek and continues beside it down to the cascade.
FORDING HAZARD ~ This creek is about 20' wide and 6" deep. There is room for it to spread out after a heavy rain so it will probably not be over knee high. Use caution.
14.5 ~ SCOTT’S CASCADE ~ DRY CREEK ~ RW ~ 710’
LOWEST ELEVATION ON THE ALABAMA PINHOTI TRAIL
The two creeks merge here at the cascade and the topo maps call it Dry Creek. When you reach the cascade, the trail turns right and crosses Dry Creek and then follows FS 621A up the hill.
NEXT RW ~ 7.0 miles
The cascade is a large, broad (as opposed to tall) natural rock formation which serves as the spillway for Scott Lake. Be sure to check out the root base of the old Sycamore tree in the middle of the creek at the cascade. Ever seen anything like that before?
FORDING HAZARD ~ Dry Creek is about 20' wide and 1' deep and can be easily forded most times of the year, but after a heavy rain it will be over knee high and running very fast. The creek is moving slower downstream, but it's also MUCH deeper. I would not advise going downstream. If the water is too high and fast and you really don’t feel comfortable crossing at the dam (ME!), try going back to mile 48.5 ~ SCOTT LAKE VIEW, and bushwhack around the right side of the lake. The small feeder creek at the back of the lake will be easier to cross.
Meanwhile, the trail is continuing around the other side of the lake and is now coming toward you. Once you cross the feeder creek start looking for the trail as you bushwhack straight up the hill.
14.7 ~ SCOTT LAKE (shelter proposed) ~ SC, LC, RW ~ 730'
After the trail crosses Dry Creek, you will follow FS 621-A up the hill 0.1 miles to the first driveway on the right. Turn here and go 5 yards. The trail goes back in the woods on the left and continues around the lake.
SC ~ On the way up 621-A to the first driveway, there is a nice campsite on the left with a great view, through the notch between the 2 hills that form the sides of the lake, of the Horn Mountain Ridge just north of the Microwave Tower. A little farther up the road is a large patch of mature Bamboo on the right with several huge old Long Leaf Pines inside of the thicket.
LC ~ After you turn right at the first driveway, you can continue past the trail turnoff to the small peninsula on the lake where you will find some grassy flat spots.
NEXT RW ~ 6.9 miles
WILDFLOWER ~ Butterfly Weed ~ Orange ~ May
HISTORY ~ Years ago, this area was private property and there were 4 cabins on this side of the lake that were used by hunters. You can still see some of the old rock retaining walls and a few sets of steps. The original road to this place actually came up from the south and crossed Dry Creek down by the cascade.
15.1 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ LC, SW ~ 866'
15.3 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ ROAD BED ~ SW
Go straight onto the road after crossing the spring.
15.5 ~ ROAD BED TURN OFF ~ SW
The trail turns right off of the road.
16.1 ~ SPRING CROSSINGS ~ SW
There are 13 spring crossings between here and Porter's Gap.
16.5 ~ ROAD BED
The trail goes right on the road 5 yards and then back in the woods on the left.
17.2 ~ FOUR YELLOW FS CULVERTS ~ SW
HISTORY 2005 ~ There are 4 spring crossings between here and Porter's Gap with yellow plastic culverts across each of them that were provided by the FS and put in place by Trails Unlimited.
17.3 ~ THE PINNACLE VIEW ON THE RIGHT
The Pinnacle is the last peak on the north end of the Horn Mountain Ridge at Porter's Gap.
SUMMIT ~ The Pinnacle ~ 1660' ~ #60 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama.
18.0 ~ PORTER'S GAP TRAILHEAD ~ AL 77 ~ CS, TT, HS ~ 956'
The trailhead parking area is straight across AL 77.
ROADKILL WARNING ~ You'll probably want to scurry right on across this highway!!
CS ~ Go left on AL 77 for 4.6 miles to a small store.
CS ~ Go right 0.5 and 2.3 miles to stores .
TT ~ Go left on AL 77 for 8.9 miles to Talladega. Turn right at the intersection a little way past the High School and go 1 mile to Wal-Mart, motels, laundry, food.
TT ~ Go right 13.4 miles to Ashland. Groceries, clean motel, laundry, food- slow and fast, laundry. Hiker services are all in the town area.
END HORN MOUNTAIN
NORTHERN TERMINUS / FINISH HIKE
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
USE ODOMETER OR TRIP METER (NO REALLY :)
NORTHERN TERMINUS ~ FINISH HIKE ~ PARK FINISH HIKE VEHICLE FIRST
18.0 ~ PORTER’S GAP TRAILHEAD
Begin from the east side of downtown Talladega, AL on AL 77, at the Wal Mart.
Go south on AL 77 appx. 1.0 miles to the stop sign. Turn left (you are still on AL 77).
Go 8.9 miles to the Porter’s Gap Trailhead parking area on the left, just past the 55 mile marker.
SOUTHERN TERMINUS ~ START HIKE ~ PARK START HIKE VEHICLE
0.0 ~ BULLS GAP TRAILHEAD
From the Porter’s Gap Trailhead parking area, turn left on AL 77.
Go 2.2 miles to the caution light at CR 7. Turn right.
Go 2.3 miles to a creek crossing with guardrails. Turn right just past the crossing (you are still on CR 7).
Go 5.2 miles to the stop sign at AL 148. Turn right.
Go 0.8 miles to the top of the ridge. There are 2 dirt roads on the right about 50’ apart. Turn right on the second dirt road, Old Rocky Mountain Road – FS 607.
Go appx. 50 yards to the Trailhead parking area, on the left.