The Pinhoti National Recreation Trail is one of Alabama’s hidden gems. The trail is 335 miles in length, located within Alabama and Georgia. It was first mapped in 1920 by a man named Benton McKaye, but construction on it began in 1970. It was first opened to the public on March 16, 2008.
The northern terminus extends into North Georgia over Springer mountain, just shy of the Tennessee border. The southern terminus is the Flagg Mountain Trailhead in Coosa County Alabama, just south of Sylacauga.
This beautiful trail meanders through the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It is part of the Eastern Continental Trail and the Great Eastern Trail. As of about 1985, the Alabama Trail association worked in tandem with the Conservation fund to link the Pinhoti with the Appalachian trail. There is an ongoing effort by AL and GA hiking groups to convince the US Congress to make it part of the AT.
Shannon has walked parts of the Pinhoti trail in the past and is familiar with it. This past weekend, we took Jango and hiked a few miles of it, and it was easy to see why people have worked so hard to preserve it. It’s a beautiful place.
We hiked to the Lower Shoal shelter, which was incredibly picturesque. A little rolling stream surrounds the shelter, and there is a small waterfall in the crook of the turn that it faces. The shelf-like rocks that line the creek are perfect stepping stones to explore it from every angle.
At the shelter, stands a sturdy stone fire pit and picnic table. Inside, standard wooden hooks line the walls for hikers to hang packs, gear, and jackets. As with many other trail shelters, there’s a small plastic tub that holds a spiral guest book and pen, and a few other random odds and ends that likely have been left by hikers passing through that they thought may be useful to others here.
I wish we’d planned an overnight this time, but alas…. The SEC championship game took up the bulk of our Saturday afternoon and evening . Since we both have daughters at the University of Alabama, it was imperative that we watch and worry with everyone else.
This short hike on the Pinhoti only fueled our interest in exploring more soon. According to a quick Google search, there are approximately 75 established overnight sites including campsites, hostels, stealth camping, and 3-sided shelters. The trail shelters are similar to those found on the Appalachian Trail and fit 6-8 people.
There are 9 trail shelters on the Alabama portion of the Pinhoti trail. The word Pinhoti is a Creek Indian word that means “Turkey Home”. Shannon spotted and pointed out some places where he saw evidence of turkeys having been around recently. The trail is marked with sky blue paint blazes, and it is still recommended that hikers use trail maps and a compass when navigating, as some areas can be confusing.
It was a fun hike and we hope to see more of the Pinhoti in coming months!!