pinhoti national recreation trail / pinhoti millennium legacy trail
a 337.1 mile southern region appalachian trail connector
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current weather @ pinhoti trail mid-point ~ s14 - 7.3 ~ cave spring trailhead
section 5 / snailtrail / northbound.
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NORTHERN TERMINUS ~ FINISH HIKE
PARK FINISH HIKE VEHICLE FIRST
15.5 ~ ADAMS GAP TRAILHEAD
Exit I-20 at US 431, east of Oxford, AL.
Go south 3.4 miles to the second right turn past the overhead bridge at the top of the ridge. Turn right (there is a brown Cheaha State Park sign here).
Go 0.4 miles to the stop sign at AL 281. Turn left.
Go 17.9 miles to the end of the pavement. This is the Adams Gap Trailhead parking area.
SOUTHERN TERMINUS ~ BEGIN HIKE
PARK START HIKE VEHICLE
0.0 ~ PORTER’S GAP TRAILHEAD
From the Adams Gap Trailhead parking area, go across AL 281 to the small downhill paved road.
Go 1.5 miles to the first paved road on the right, Blue Ridge Road. Turn right.
Go 1.2 miles to the stop sign at CR 12. Turn right.
Go 6.7 miles to the stop sign at CR 209. Turn right.
Go 3.2 miles to the stop sign at AL 77. Turn right.
Go 1.2 miles to the Porter’s Gap Trailhead parking area, on the right.
CS ~ CONVENIENCE STORE ~ 0.0
TT ~ TRAIL TOWN ~ 0.0
SC ~ SMALL CAMP ~ 5.2, 13.8
LC ~ LARGE CAMP ~ 3.4, 4.9, 9.7, 12.1, 13.9, 15.3
TS ~ TRAIL SHELTER ~ 0
SW ~ SEASONAL WATER ~ 5.2, 6.5, 6,6, 13.8, 13.9, 14.3, 14.4, 15.3
RW ~ RELIABLE WATER ~ 3.4, 15.3
HS ~ HOT SHOWER ~ 0.0
DISTANCE ~ 15.5
CUMULATIVE ~ 49.1 ~ 64.6
ELEVATION: L 843' ~ H 1870'
WOODS TRAIL ~ VERY DIFFICULT
LANDMARK ~ TALLADEGA CREEK
LOCAL TOWN ~ TALLADEGA
CONTINUE SOUTH TALLADEGA HIGHLANDS
BEGIN TALLADEGA MOUNTAIN
0.0 ~ PORTERS GAP TRAILHEAD ~ AL 77 ~ 977' ~ CS, TT
The Pinhoti begins at the back of the parking area, to the right. Look for the blue blaze painted on a tree.
CS ~ Go west on AL 77 for 4.6 miles to a small store.
CS ~ Go east 2.3 miles to a store on the wet side of the county line.
TT ~ Go west on AL 77 for 8.9 miles to Talladega.
TT ~ Go east 13.4 miles to Ashland.
NEXT RW ~ 3.4 miles.
WILDFLOWER ~ Blazing Star ~ Purple ~ October
WILDFLOWER ~ Candy Root ~ Yellow ~ May
HISTORY 2008 ~ 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.
1.3 ~ CHANDLER GAP ~ 1100’
You will cross the old Gap Road here (it just looks like a gulley now). You may hear a lot of gunfire in this area at times. The USFS Shepard Branch Shooting Complex is way down in the valley to your left.
WILDFLOWER ~ Woodland Sunflower ~ Yellow ~ May
2.3 ~ ROCKY TOP 1 ~ 1450'
There are many special places along the Pinhoti and the Rocky Tops are at the top of my list. The trail may be hard to see in these areas, so keep an eye out for the blue blazes.
2.7 ~ SWITCHBACKS ~ DOWNHILL ~ 1320'
3.2 ~ SKYWAY ROAD ~ 858'
When you get to the road, you will turn left and go 0.2 miles to the RR tracks and the bridge.
WILDFLOWER ~ Lobelia ~ Purple ~ September
3.4 ~ TALLADEGA CREEK BRIDGE ~ LC, RW ~ 843'
The trail crosses the bridge and goes straight on FS 600 for 0.2 miles, then goes back in the woods on the left.
RW - You can turn left after the bridge and go a short distance for easy access to the creek.
NEXT RW ~ 12.7 miles (this includes the 0.8 mile hike west on the Skyway Loop Trail to the creek).
HISTORY - The Alice Springs Campground. The campground is no longer in operation.
Look for the Alice Springs Campground on the right just before the bridge. The owners provided campsites and firewood for $5 per night at the old CCC Campground and Day or overnight parking for a $2 donation. Trig and Alice were very hiker friendly!
Alice Springs Campground
600 Skyline Drive
Chandler Springs, AL
WILDFLOWER ~ Common Evening Primrose ~ Yellow ~ August
HISTORY ~ This bridge was built in 1948 to replace the old one. You can still see the old bridge supports downstream. At one time these old crossings were an important link between the farms and towns. In many places like here and the covered bridge crossing at Waldo, just a few miles downstream, there were large campgrounds for people walking with mules or in wagons who could not make the trip to the markets in Talladega in one day. This was a 3 day, 36 mile round trip from Ashland. The campground is located at the north east corner of the bridge and during the 1930's this was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp for the crew that built FS 600 (-2) from Bull Gap to Mt. Cheaha, which at the time was the main south entrance road to the state park.
3.6 ~ FS 600 TURNOFF ~ 870'
This is where the trail goes back in the woods on the left, 0.2 miles after the bridge. There is a good sign post here.
3.7 ~ SWITCHBACKS ~ UPHILL ~ 910'
4.1 ~ CAMPSITE ~ SC ~ 1130'
There is a good level spot on the right with no fire ring.
4.9 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ LC ~ 1410'
The trail goes straight across the road. As soon as you cross over, there is an old road bed on the right that goes downhill 100 yards to some thick pine straw covered flat spots. Really bad place for a campfire.
WILDFLOWER ~ Aster ~ Purple ~ October
5.1 ~ SWITCHBACKS ~ DOWNHILL ~ 1200'
5.2 ~ CAMPSITE / SPRING CROSSING ~ SC, SW
PROPOSED AHTS SHELTER
6.1 ~ ROCKY TOP 2 ~ 1450'
There is a rocky overlook on the right with a good view of the valley.
HISTORY ~ The trains still run through this section, which is between Talladega and Lineville. If you could look straight down through the trees to the base of the ridge, you would see the Horn Mountain Trail Club Base Camp beside the tracks on CR 12 (Clairmont Springs Road). You would also see an old whistle stop community called Weathers (Station), 1/2 mile to the west on CR 12. The old Steam Locomotives would stop here to fill up with water from the pond beside the tracks. The little white house beside the pond was the Station Master's home. If you were to continue west on the tracks 2 or 3 miles you would come to where you were 90 minutes ago ~ the 3.4 ~Talladega Creek Bridge Crossing. The old Clairmont Springs Hotel is just a few miles to the east on the tracks. Their claim to fame were the seven springs on the property, that each contained a different mineral. The well heeled would ride the train out for a "healing" soak. If you could look past Poe Bridge Mountain, on the far side of the valley, you would see the town of Ashland, whose Courthouse is at a higher elevation than any other in the state at 1153'. Until Mentone, AL recently incorporated, Ashland was also the highest incorporated city in Alabama.
6.3 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ 1480'
The trail goes straight across the road.
6.5 ~ SWITCHBACKS ~ DOWNHILL ~ SW ~ 1430'
The first switchback goes to the left. As soon as you turn right on the second switchback there is a good spring down on your left.
6.6 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 1400'
The water runs underground most of the time near the trail. You may have to follow the stream bed downhill a little to find a pool.
6.8 ~ ROCK GARDEN ~ 1410'
With the proper attitude adjustment, crossing these 14 rock fields is fun! Just go ahead and plan at least 2 hard hours for the next 1.9 miles, kick back and relax. The first half is very rugged and you really need to have your lightning reflexes dialed in. The going gets easier after the halfway point but you still have to pay constant attention to the loose rocks and holes.
WILDFLOWER ~ Spiderwort ~ Purple ~ Spring
8.7 ~ DEAD CAR ~ POWER LINE CROSSING ~ 1360'
This car found out there is a sharp curve on FS 600, which is right up above you. DUUUCK !
8.8 ~ POWER LINE CROSSING ~ 1340'
8.9 ~ CLAIRMONT GAP ~ 1356'
The trail comes out on FS 600. Turn left and go 20 yards, cross Guntertown Road, then go another 10 yards on FS 600. The trail goes back in the woods on the left. There are 4 switchbacks up ahead.
9.1 ~ CLAIRMONT SWITCHBACKS ~ UPHILL ~ 1420'
The first turn is on the right. The second turn is on the left and puts you on an old roadbed. Keep a close eye on the blazes for the third turn, which is on the right. The fourth turn is on the left at the top of Clairmont Point.
9.5 ~ CLAIRMONT POINT ~ 1650'
After you make the left turn on the fourth switchback, go about 10' and turn sharp left again and follow the ridge line up to Rocky Top 3. This sharp left was not marked in early 2004. There is a good southern view here of Clairmont Gap and the ridge going south and it's also a great spot to watch winter sunsets.
9.7 ~ ROCKY TOP 3 ~ LC ~ 1770'
Large Campsite... Hmmm... Yes, there is a fire ring here and a few flat spots, but you better have some really tough tent stakes with you!
11.3 ~ BURGESS POINT VIEW ~ 1600'
Here is a good winter view of the south side of the point.
11.4 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ 1580'
The trail goes left 10 yards on the road and then back in the woods on the right.
12.1 ~ BURGESS POINT ~ FIRE TOWER (missing) ~ LC ~ 1870'
This is the highest peak in Section 5. You can't quite see the point up to your left. A few feet before you get to the 64.4 ~ FS 600 Crossing, there is an old grown up road bed on your left that goes up to the Point. It is a pretty tough 0.4 mile trek up to the old fire tower site.
LC ~ At the tower site, there is a fire ring inside the 4 concrete corner blocks where the tower was and some level grassy tent spots nearby.
HISTORY ~ Connie Roberson, who is a state employee (now retired) at Cheaha State Park and old friend, grew up in the community of Erin (ear-in), which is at the eastern base of Burgess Point. She remembers when she was a little girl (tomboy :) in the 60's, the tower was carried off by helicopter. There are 360" very limited winter views here because of, yep, trees. On the south side of the peak there is a 50' piled (as opposed to stacked) rock wall that may have been an observation deck and also some flat concrete "things" (cistern, spring house, out house?). On the north side there is a 150' L shaped piled rock wall that was possibly another deck or a trail or road border. Back around the middle of the last century, FS 600, both north and south of AL 77, was a popular travel destination for the locals. The Bunker Tower at Cheaha and the Fire Towers on Horn Mountain and Burgess Point were always packed with picnickers after church on Sundays according to my Aunt Patty. Friday and Saturday nights were pretty busy too but she didn't have much to say about that...:)
HISTORY ~ Bob Pasquill, the USFS archeologist for Alabama, recently told me that this 100' steel fire tower was flown to the top of Dugger Mountain to replace a 30' wooden tower.
SUMMIT ~ Burgess Point ~ 1870' ~ #23 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama. The summit is up on your left.
12.2 ~ FS 600 CROSSING ~ 1750'
The trail goes right 10 yards on the road and then back in the woods on the left.
WILDFLOWER ~ Huckleberry ~ White / April ~ Fruit / May
13.4 ~ PATTERSON SWITCHBACKS ~ DOWNHILL ~ 1550'
There are several good winter views of Cheaha Mountain to the north, 13.6 trail miles away. There are also several views of a new 3 story house that was built up on the first peak north of you in 2004.
13.5 ~ PATTERSON GAP ~ 1460'
The trail goes right 10 feet on a good gravel road and then back in the woods on the left (poorly blazed 2004). There are a lot of tricky little downhill switchbacks ahead. The trail is not obvious and neither are the blazes.
UPDATE 2004 ~ There are more silver metal diamonds in the switchbacks now and it is much better.
UPDATE 2006 ~ The metal diamonds have been replaced with blue blazes.
13.8 ~ CAMPSITE ~ SC, SW ~ 1380'
Hmmm... you’ll need some really tough tent stakes!! Great campsite though!
SW ~ Continue north on the trail 0.1 miles to the Double Spring.
13.9 ~ DOUBLE SPRING CROSSING ~ LC, SW ~ 1260'
PROPOSED AHTS SHELTER
There is a steep 20' high hump between the two springs and some flat spots, just past the second crossing, with 2 fire rings. Keep an eye out for the uphill switchbacks just ahead.
WILDFLOWER ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White ~ May
14.0 ~ SWITCHBACKS ~ 1280'
The first turn is to the right.
14.3 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 1320'
14.4 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 1340'
WILDFLOWER ~ Oak leaf Hydrangia (Alabama State Wildflower) ~ White ~ May
15.3 ~ SKYWAY LOOP TRAIL ~ LC, SW, RW ~ 1400'
When you get to the sign board, the Pinhoti goes to the right.
SW ~ Go left on the Skyway Loop Trail 0.1 miles to a good size spring.
LC, RW ~ Go left on the Skyway Loop Trail 0.8 miles to several large campsites beside Barbaree Creek.
The SLT continues on past the campsite for another 4.3 miles to the Chinnabee Silent Trail, where you can turn left and go to the Lake Chinnabee Campground, which is open from April 15 to November 15.
UPDATE 2013 ~ A big rain washed out the lake Chinnabee Campground (and the campers too!!) and has been closed. All of the trails at Lake Chinnabee remain open to the public.
FACEBOOK POST BY BRIAN ANDREWS ~ Clay County Rescue Squad ~ I'm pretty sure it was 18 May 2013. I know the month and year is correct. I was there. 19 campers were flooded out, rescued, and taken to Cheaha State Park restaurant to warm, wait, and make calls. One vehicle with two occupants were involved but escaped. The roadway was appx 4 ft under water. It remains closed to overnight campers to this day.
NEXT RW ~ 11.7 miles. This is the last reliable water source until you reach Cheaha State Park at mile 79.3.
HISTORY ~ Along the way down to the creek, you will pass a standing chimney on the right, which was once part of a Civilian Conservation Corps built Park Cabin. The CCC had a workers camp near here and did a lot of rock work within a 10 mile radius of Cheaha State Park from 1933 until the park opened in 1939.
15.5 ~ ADAMS GAP TRAILHEAD ~ AL 281 ~ 1457'
The trail comes out at the trailhead parking area on AL 281.