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current weather @ pinhoti trail mid-point / 181.3 ~ cave spring trailhead.
pinhoti national recreation trail / pinhoti millennium legacy trail
* section and mileage numbering system example: "s7 ~ 0.2" / s7 = a section number and 0.2 = a landmark mileage *
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section 6 / snailtrail.
WILDERNESS GUIDELINES: ALL TRAIL BLAZES HAVE BEEN REMOVED
DISTANCE ~ 11.3 MILES
CUMULATIVE ~ 64.6 ~ 75.9
ELEVATION ~ L 1360' ~ H 2323'
WOODS TRAIL ~ VERY DIFFICULT
LANDMARK ~ CHEAHA WILDERNESS
LOCAL TOWN ~ OXFORD
SOUTHERN TERMINUS ~ START HIKE
CONTINUE SOUTH TALLADEGA HIGHLANDS
CONTINUE TALLADEGA MOUNTAIN
0.0 ~ ADAMS GAP TRAILHEAD ~ AL 281 ~ 1444'
From the trailhead parking area, the north trail goes straight across AL 281. Go downhill on the small paved road for about 10 yards, the trail then turns left and goes back in the woods and starts climbing into the Cheaha Wilderness.
HISTORY ~ 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 second portion of the Pinhoti began from Cheaha State Park south to Adams Gap.
0.1 ~ BEGIN CHEAHA WILDERNESS ~ 1500'
For many hikers, the Cheaha Wilderness is the # 1 destination on the Alabama section of the Pinhoti because of its stunning views and numerous side trails, which offer a lot of different loop trail possibilities. There are 26 fire rings on the Pinhoti in the next 11.4 miles.
HISTORY ~ The dedication for the 7490 acre wilderness was in 1983 and this is the southwestern boundary.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Buckeye ~ Red ~ April
1.2 ~ 1.6 ~ 6 SPRING CROSSINGS ~ SW ~ 1380'
3.1 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 1380'
3.2 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 1360'
3.5 ~ SIGN BOARD, GO RIGHT ~ 1484'
The trail turns right and goes 0.2 miles on the road bed.
3.7 ~ SIGN BOARD, GO LEFT ~ 1591'
The trail goes back in the woods on the left.
HISTORY ~ This sign board is off trail 10' up on the left and is easy to miss. The road bed is blocked with rocks and logs here at the turn.
If you climb over all this stuff the road continues for another 0.2 miles up to the gap. There was a hot fire up here several years ago that killed all the trees and now the gap is a big brush pile. There are no clear places to camp and no views.
3.8 ~ STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN ~ 1575'
Here is a huge rock garden and there are a lot of tricky little uphill rocky switchbacks for the next 0.5 miles. There are also good dark blue blazes here, which are not allowed in the Wilderness : ) Keep a close watch on them! If you are familiar with the standard blaze system, you know that an off ~ set double blaze means there is a turn coming up. The blaze on TOP is off ~ set, either to the right or left, signifying which way to turn. As of early 2003 all the top blazes in this section are opposite of what they should be, but who's complaining?!
UPDATE ~ As of 2006, all of the blazes in the wilderness have been redone in the standard Pinhoti light blue color and all the off ~ set blazes here are now correct.
4.3 ~ PEARLY GATES ~ 2050'
You will have to see it to believe it. Yikes! This is an appropriate introduction to what lies ahead on the way up to the Cheaha Trailhead; difficult but worth every drop of sweat.
4.4 ~ HEAVEN ~ ROCKY TOP 4 ~ SC ~ 2135'
There is a hidden rocky overlook on the left as you scramble your way around the north side of the peak. The view from here of the ridgeline going north and ending at Mt Cheaha is probably the most recognizable Pinhoti photo.
SC ~ Look around for a couple of small, rocky flat spots.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White ~ May
TRAIL DESCRIPTION ~ This northern view gives you a good idea of where you'll be for the next 7.1 miles on the way up to Mt. Cheaha. The trail follows the ridgeline north for 4.1 miles to the 0.6 mile long McDill Overlook Trail, which is a must see overlook. After McDill, the Pinhoti continues north for 2.4 miles to Mt. Cheaha, which is that farthest peak you can see from here. The faint blue ridge that's back behind Cheaha is our Sister Ridge (Choccolocco Mountains). You can check out Section 8, mile 104.3, for more details. You will have off and on views of this 61 mile mountain chain as she parallels the Pinhoti all the way up to Dugger Mountain in Section 11. If you should ever make it up to Bald Rock on top of Cheaha, there is a close up view of her as she makes her way east from Coldwater to Oxford and then the northeast turn in Golden Springs before heading on up to Piedmont.
4.8 ~ 5.4 ~ 3 CAMPSITES ~ LC ~ 2100'
There are good views from the rocky overlooks at these campsites.
SUMMIT ~ Odum Point ~ 2342' ~ #3 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama. The summit is up on your right.
5.5 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 2140'
5.7 ~ ROCKY TOP 5 ~ 2160'
5.8 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2120'
There are good views at this campsite.
5.9 ~ SPRING CROSSING ~ SW ~ 2120'
6.0 ~ LITTLE CANEY HEAD ~ LC, SW ~ 2100'
The Pinhoti goes straight through this 4 way intersection. The Odum Scout Trail is to the right and the Chinnabee Silent Trail is to the left.
LC ~ Little Caney Head is a busy place with 6 fire rings.
SW ~ The spring is 50' down the CST, on the left.
FLOWERING SHRUB ~ Mountain Laurel ~ White / May
HISTORY ~ This is the former site of the Little Caney Head Shelter. Wilderness guidelines do not allow any man-made structures within the Wilderness boundaries, so, sometime around 1983 the shelter was flown by National Guard helicopter 3.2 miles west on the Chinnabee Silent Trail to Cheaha Falls and has been renamed the Cheaha Falls Shelter. This shelter is in great shape but it is a little homesick. It does have a good view through the pines of its old home up here though and the falls make good company for it too.
Little Caney Head is also home to the intersecting point of 2 major side trails. This is the eastern terminus of the Chinnabee Silent Trail which goes to the left 5.7 miles to Lake Chinnabee. This trail was completed in 1976 by Boy Scout Troop #29 from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. I had the pleasure of meeting the original Troop Leader, Moran Colburn, on the trail years later. He organized the construction this trail back in the 70's. This gentleman and some of his friends still come out every year to do trail maintenance.
This is also the northern terminus of the Odum Scout Trail which goes to the right 4.9 miles to the High Falls Trailhead. This trail was built by Boy Scout Troop #? and was completed in 1961.
SUMMIT ~ Little Caney Head ~ 2310' ~ #5 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama. Once you pass the intersection, the summit is up on your right.
6.1 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2100'
There are good views from this campsite.
7.6 ~ CCT CONNECTOR ~ 2143'
The Pinhoti goes straight through the intersection of the Cave Creek Trail Connector.
8.6 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2040'
This campsite and the next one at mile 76.5 have nothing even close to a flat spot. I would be nice if this recent natural area could be allowed regenerate itself. : )
8.7 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2060'
9.1 ~ McDILL OVERLOOK TRAIL ~ SC, LC ~ 2073'
The Pinhoti goes straight through this intersection. You can go left 0.25 miles at the sign board to McDill.
SC ~ At the McDOT sign board, you can go right 50' up the hill to some small campsites.
LC ~ Go left on the McDOT 0.25 miles to several large campsites at the overlook.
OVERLOOK DESCRIPTION ~ There is a great overlook of the western 1/3 of the Wilderness here and views of the Appalachian Chain as it makes a perfect 20 mile sweep to the southeast. There are packs of Coyotes living in the Wilderness now and you can hear them yipping and howling most any night in season. Look for gray, fuzzy poop on the trail; they like to eat Possums. 8~(
SUMMIT ~ McDill Point ~ 2188' ~ #8 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama. Continue past the overlook trail about 0.2 miles, the summit is up on your right.
9.2 ~ WHO ROCK ~ SC ~ 1960'
The trail bears to the right here through the pines.
HISTORY ~ This campsite was named by Dr. Lee, author of the Hiking Alabama website and forum. There is a large western view from this small point. The night time lights are from Talladega on the left and Munford on the right.
9.6 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2060'
10.0 ~ END CHEAHA WILDERNESS ~ 2306'
You have just come up the switchbacks and reached the top of the Hernandez Peak ridge. The trail turns left here and the Wilderness Dedication Marker is on the left at ground level.
HISTORY ~ In 1983, 7490 acres south of Cheaha State Park was designated as the Cheaha Wilderness. The dedication ceremony was held at Cheaha State Park here on the south end of Hernandez Peak in mid-August with the Hon. Bill Nichols presiding. In 1988 ???? acres were added to the wilderness.
10.2 ~ HERNANDEZ PEAK ~ LC, SW ~ 2323'
HIGHEST ELEVATION ON THE ALABAMA PINHOTI TRAIL
There are several campsites but no great views here.
CAUTION ~ The trail makes a tricky left turn up ahead so here's the deal; once you make it to the Wilderness Dedication Marker on top of this ridge, it's almost as flat as a pancake for about 1/4 mile, then the ridge ends and you start going downhill. After about 50', you come to a flat grassy spot on the left surrounded by big rocks. The trail turns sharp left here and goes down through a steep rocky chute. Once you come down off the ridge through the chute, the trail crosses a spring (bog) and gets on an old jeep road. The Hon. Bill Nichols used this road to ride out to the Cheaha Wilderness Dedication Ceremony. (Hey, he was an old guy ! ! ) You only go 50 yards on the jeep road and then the trail veers off to the left.
SW ~ Come down off the ridge through the chute and go 50 yards to the spring (bog).
HISTORY 2008 ~ A 10,000 pound limestone and granite boulder with a dedication plaque was placed on the Pinhoti at Cheaha State Park on the north end of Hernandez Peak commemorating the connection of the Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail.
SUMMIT ~ Hernandez Peak ~ 2344' ~ #2 on the list of 100 highest named summits in Alabama.
10.3 ~ HERNANDEZ PEAK SHELTER (planned)
10.7 ~ CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2140'
10.8 ~ ROBO COP CAMPSITE ~ LC ~ 2140'
11.2 ~ CHEAHA TRAILHEAD CONNECTOR
To reach the trailhead parking area, you will turn right at this intersection and go 0.1 miles. At the bottom of the switchbacks, there is a well worn trail to the right. Continue straight past this trail 50 yards to the parking area.
11.3 ~ CHEAHA TRAILHEAD ~ 2045’
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
79.1 ~ CHEAHA TRAILHEAD
Exit I-20 at Exit 191, US 431S, 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 11.5 miles to the Cheaha Trailhead parking area, on the left.
SOUTHERN TERMINUS ~ START HIKE
PARK START HIKE VEHICLE
67.8 ~ ADAMS GAP TRAILHEAD
From the Cheaha Trailhead parking area, turn left on AL 281.
Go 6.4 miles to the end of the pavement.
This is the Adams Gap Trailhead parking area.