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Backpacker Magazine – January 2014

Multisport Playgrounds

Going by foot is only one way to see what’s best in the South. Bring your climbing gear, fins, or mountain bike to find the rest.

by: Stuart Peck

Mountain Biking
Cheaha State Park, AL

Get your nature fix by boot and by bike at this state park boasting Cheaha Mountain, Alabama’s 2,413-foot high point. Start with a 27.9-mile overnight on the Pinhoti Trail beginning from Adam’s Gap. “The lack of water sources makes this trail a challenge,” says Patrick Barry, “but it also deters dayhikers and less-experienced backpackers, making it seldom used.” You’ll flush turkeys from the undergrowth and hear songbirds on the climb through hickory, mountain laurel, and dogwoods (blooms in spring). Skirt the summit of Cheaha at mile 12.2 and reach your campsite at Blue Mountain Shelter (mile 12.4). Next day, continue 15.5 miles to the trailhead at US 431, drive back to the park, and stay in the primitive campground ($13/night). Day three, grab your mountain bike and head up the Cheaha Express Trail, linking 8 miles of trails ranging from technical ascents to cruisey singletrack.

Trailhead 33.407800, -85.874720; 86 miles east of Birmingham on AL 281 info (256) 488-5111; Website

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