The Pinhoti Trail is a 240 mile trail stretching Alabama's Appalachian Mountains into Northwest Georgia. For many hiker enthusiast, the Pinhoti Trail is the start of the Appalachian Trail. “Pinhoti” derives from the Creek Indian word meaning “turkey home”. The Pinhoti Trail consists of two smaller trails: the Alabama Pinhoti Trail (100 miles) and the Georgia Pinhoti Trail (140 miles).
The Alabama Pinhoti Trail extends over 100 miles along the southernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains. The trail passes through Dugger Mountain Wilderness Area and Cheaha State Park Wilderness Area (highest point in Alabama).
The Georgia Pinhoti Trail (GPT) is the longest foot trail in Georgia. It begins at the Alabama state line in Polk County, Georgia and continues to the Benton MacKaye Trail (an access trail to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail) deep in the Armuchee-Cohutta District between Ellijay, Blue Ridge, and Chatsworth. Unfortunately a majority of this section of the Pinhoti Trail is road walking.
The classic 1972 movie, Deliverance, about the South and the deep backwoods of America seem to reflect the type of trail experience one may have when researching for their Pinhoti adventure. Researching for information regarding the Pinhoti Trail, we stumbled upon Pinhotitrailalliance.org. The first image that pops up is a family of three (resembling the Clampetts from Beverly Hillbillies) sitting in an old rusted truck combined with "sketchy, homegrown" music playing in the background. This site has since been updated; yet the Deliverance stigma still remains. My guess is the photo is used to portray the several rusted cars, aka “Dead Cars” that you'll see when walking the trail. The first few sections are very deserted and quiet, except for the mildly scary, long haired, toothless gentleman that will chase you to the end of the road near Talladega Creek Bridge (see journal and photos). Unfortunately information today about the Pinhoti Trail is widely scattered among many websites that are seldom updated.
The Pinhoti Trail has several pleasant sites to see like Alabama's oldest State Park, Cheaha State Park. Near one of the trailheads at Cheaha State Park is a stone archway made by local artists and school children (see photos). There is also the small town, Cave Springs, Georgia, where everything closes at 8:00 p.m. (not 8:01). Not far down the road from Cave Springs is Lock and Dam Park situated on the Coosa River that will allow hikers to sleep on the ground for a small fee. The Pinhoti Trail leads you through the quaint city of Rome, Georgia along the Oostanaula River where you walk by the local prison, and then on to a small section of condemned houses before reaching beautiful downtown Rome where you will resupply. The Pinhoti then follows the Simms Mountain Trail, a railroad bed converted into a rail-trail out of Rome, GA parrelling Highway 100 to Holland, GA and then back in to the Chattahoochee National Forest at High Point Trailhead. From High Point, the walk to Dalton may be the most scenetic section of the entire trail with spectacular views of sister ranges; but the final section of the trail in Ramhurst, GA to the end of the Pinhoti Trail has something to offer with the fording of creeks and streams, cascading waterfalls and seeing the magnificient Gennett Poplar making the walk to the end memorable.
The best way to describe the Pinhoti is a trail that is heavily wooded forests, far reaching ridgelines, countless creek crossings, spectacular views, dirt roads, road walking, solitude, and little wildlife. The trail is often blazed and for the most part easy to follow.
Note: On the Georgia sections of the Pinhoti Trail, be prepared for small to non-existent shoulders when road walking. This is typically paired with large 18-wheeler trucks that do not understand what its like to be passed by a 70 foot long vehicle driving 60 mph. The Georgia section also links forest service roads and existing trails and may make you feel you are never really on one trail. Though the Georgia section of the Pinhoti is the most scenic.
Unfortunately information today is widely scattered among many websites that are seldom updated. Here are a few websites that proved to provide useful and current information about the Pinhoti Trail:
Pinhoti Trail Community
http://www.pinhotitrailalliance.org/sitemap.html (Find the most abundant info for the Alabama Pinhoti Trail in one place.)
RESUPPLY on the Pinhoti Trail
Sylacauga, AL (Start of the Pinhoti Trail - Full Resupply)
Cheaha State Park Country Store: variety of snacks, soaps, laundry detergents, scissors, restrooms and showers (small fee). No restaurants.
Oxford, Anniston, Heflin, & Piedmont - All Require a Hitch, but Full Resupply
Cave Springs: Medium Grocery Store (limited hours),
One Motel (not the Hilton),
Several small gas stations (limited hours)
Lock and Dam Park: this park is mainly used by people in campers, yet the park will allow hikers to sleep on the ground (aka "primitive camping") and use showers/restrooms for a nightly fee.
This park also has a small store with snacks, fishing supplies, and an interesting animal exhibit in the back.
The trail leads through downtown Rome, but if you follow Broad Street all the way to Turner McCall Blvd. there is a full resupply with motels, restaurants, groceries, and stores all within walking distance of one another.
The trail leads through Dalton, GA (Located on Exit 333, Walnut Ave., off of I-75). The Dalton resupply offers a full resupply with motels, restaurants, groceries, and stores all within walking distance of one another.