Birmingham, AL: Pinhoti Trail Loop

Ford creeks and rivers and traipse past rocky overlooks on this 17.6-mile loop along Alabama's secluded Pinhoti Trail.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Ford creeks and rivers and traipse past rocky overlooks on this 17.6-mile loop along Alabama's secluded Pinhoti Trail.

The 17.6-mile Pinhoti Trail loop follows a well-worn path as it crisscrosses numerous creeks and rivers (some of which can be tricky at high water). White quartz outcroppings offer hikers an opportunity to peer beyond dense tree cover, but the large diversity of plant life along this route allows for plenty to discover underneath the canopy as well. Red and white oak, long and short needle pine, sourwood, and sassafras trees (among others) accompany blueberry shrubs, sumac, and hydrangeas to make for a rich botanical experience.

Caution: Poison ivy is a common leaf as well, especially in the trail’s wetter and cooler areas. Campsites abound on this loop, but there are only so many near a viable water source—many of the trail’s streams are seasonal, drying out in high summer.

-Mapped by Scott Sanders

PRINT & GO: To download a PDF of this route, go to backpacker.com/printandgo.

Plan it

MAP USGS topographic quads: Ironaton, Cheaha Mountain ($8, store.usgs.gov)

GUIDEBOOK The Pinhoti Trail Guide, by M. Lee Van Horn. (free, alabamatrail.org/hikingAL)

FEES/PERMITS None

CONTACT Talladega National Forest, Talladega Ranger District: (256) 362-2909; fs.usda.gov/alabama

SEASON Target mid-to-late April to see dogwoods and wild azaleas blooming and to find reliable water sources, but be careful during and after large storms—creeks and streams can swell to dangerous levels for crossings and fords. Caution: Poison ivy abounds, especially in wet, cool areas.

CONTACT Pinhoti Trail Alliance: pinhotitrailalliance.org/sitemap.html

GROCERIES
PUBLIX SUPER MARKET
411 Green Springs Highway
Homewood, AL 35209
(205) 944-110

GAS
22ND STREET SHELL
2236 Highland Ave. South
Birmingham, AL 35205
(828) 258-167

RESTAURANTS
TOP O’ THE RIVER
3330 McClellan Blvd
Anniston, AL 36201
(256) 238-009

MELLOW MUSHROOM PIZZA
33 Industrial Dr.
Oxford, AL 362031
(205) 338-144

GOLDEN RULE BBQ
1700 Martin St. N
Pell City, AL 35125
(205) 338-144

GEAR
ALABAMA OUTDOORS
3054 Independence Dr.
Homewood, AL 35209
(205) 870-1919
alabamaoutdoors.com

Multiday gear list
Backpack
Three-season tent
Down bag (15° to 40°F) and sleeping pad
Compass, map, GPS unit
Gas stove and fuel bottles
Lighter and matches
Cookset, bowl, insulated mug, eating utensils
32 oz. water bottle (2)
Water treatment
Multitool/knife
Bear-bagging rope
Headlamp with extra batteries
Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants
Fleece and down jackets
Synthetic pants andshorts
Midweight baselayers
Synthetic T-shirt (2)
Hat and gloves
Hiking boots
Camp footwear
Wool/synthetic socks (3)
Trekking poles
Bug repellent and sunscreen (SPF 15+)
Stuffsacks
Zip-top bags
Toilet paper and trowel
First-aid kit

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 28.4

Waypoints

PIN001

Location: 33.4042358, -85.8744354

From trailhead parking lot, cross the street and look for the dirt trail to the left of Adams Gap Road. The signed Pinhoti Trail starts heading uphill about 20 feet from the road intersection. The trail's first 3 miles cross numerous seasonal streams and small campsites (perfect for those getting a late start on this long loop).

PIN002

Location: 33.418602, -85.8464661

Right before a small campsite, the trail makes a 90-degree turn to the right and heads uphill. From here, the trail gains 900 feet of elevation in the next 1.4 miles--one of the only sustained stretches of climbing on this hike.

PIN003

Location: 33.4158554, -85.8473129

Follow the trail as it makes a hard switchback to the left. This point is marked by a weathered, old trail sign.

PIN004

Location: 33.4151878, -85.8443069

Take a break from the switchbacks in the rock field found along this uphill stretch.

PIN005

Location: 33.4147263, -85.8443146

Go left @ Y-junction. Optional: In 50 feet, bear right to reach a scenic overlook with views of the surrounding mountains.

PIN006

Location: 33.4145584, -85.8432159

Drop your pack and climb the rocks to an overlook to the south of Cedar and Robinson Mountains.

PIN007

Location: 33.4163322, -85.836853

The trail makes a 90-degree turn to the left. To the right is a small campsite, but no water source is nearby.

PIN008

Location: 33.4179955, -85.8346786

The trail passes a large campsite with views of the mountains to the west.

PIN009

Location: 33.4207726, -85.8317413

The trail passes a good water source. Whether you're camping nearby or not, it's a good idea to top off here. When the small, seasonal streams dry up, this is a very dry trail with only so many opportunities to refill your water. The best route across this creek is near Waypoint 10.

PIN010

Location: 33.4207802, -85.831749

The opposite side of the creek.

PIN011

Location: 33.4229546, -85.831543

The trail passes a medium-sized campsite (there is a good water source just east of this spot).

PIN012

Location: 33.4235649, -85.8303223

Go left @ 4-way intersection (in the middle of a large campsite) onto the Chinnabee Silent Trail. Descend to the northwest. The Pinhoti Trail continues straight here, while the Odum Trail shoots off to the right.

PIN013

Location: 33.4397049, -85.8387985

Pass a large year-round stream which flows to the east of a medium-sized campsite.

PIN014

Location: 33.4409103, -85.8405914

Pass a trail marker with a map next to a medium-sized campsite.

PIN015

Location: 33.4419289, -85.8411255

To use a public restroom, turn right @ T-intersection and walk a short distance to the outhouse. To continue on the loop, turn left @ T-intersection and then make an immediate right back off the road at the next T-junction (about 100 feet from the first).

PIN016

Location: 33.4444122, -85.8413086

Continue straight across paved road to the dirt trail directly ahead.

PIN017

Location: 33.4496498, -85.8425064

Continue straight across another paved road crossing.

PIN018

Location: 33.4516602, -85.8495636

Go right @ Y-junction, heading down toward the creek.

PIN019

Location: 33.452198, -85.8499298

Ford the Cheaha Creek, the most difficult river ford of the trip. Caution: This crossing may be dangerous in high water.

PIN020

Location: 33.4524002, -85.8522263

Uphill from the creek there is a heavily-used shelter. From here, the trail meanders west passing several small campsites and stream crossings.

PIN021

Location: 33.4572067, -85.8686066

Take a break to enjoy views of the river and a small waterfall from a wooden deck overlook.

PIN022

Location: 33.4568825, -85.8712616

Take the sharp left turn @ the 3-way junction.

PIN023

Location: 33.4564857, -85.8711014

Here the trail fords the river at another spot that can be tricky at high water. After fording, bear right and follow the Skyway Trail sign. From here, it's another 6 miles back to Adams Gap.

PIN024

Location: 33.4512405, -85.87323

The trail crosses an old dirt forest road and continues straight ahead.

PIN025

Location: 33.4482079, -85.8783569

Cross another dirt road and continue straight on the trail.

PIN026

Location: 33.4438629, -85.8805313

Make a 90-degree right turn into a campsite area, cross the river, and then turn left upstream. Red blazes on trees mark your path.

PIN027

Location: 33.4356537, -85.8816986

Turn left on the gravel dirt road. In 10 feet, turn right and continue on trail.

PIN028

Location: 33.4279556, -85.8851089

Continue straight across the dirt forest road.

PIN029

Location: 33.4224281, -85.8804169

Trail descends into a campsite and crosses a creek. On the other side, bear left to continue on the trail.

PIN030

Location: 33.4223099, -85.8807297

Other side of the creek crossing. Head south.

PIN031

Location: 33.4061737, -85.8760681

Go straight @ 3-way junction, leaving the Skyway Trail and picking up the Pinhoti Trail as it continues back towards Adams Gap and the trailhead.

Overlook

Location: 33.4064407, -85.8730774

Scramble to the Overlook

Location: 33.4145584, -85.8432236

Climb this rock outcropping for a fantastic overlook.

The Overlook

Location: 33.4143715, -85.8431625

Shaded Campsite

Location: 33.4164696, -85.836792

Rocky Path

Location: 33.4192657, -85.8333817

Small Falls

Location: 33.4565926, -85.867775

Fern Grove

Location: 33.4238663, -85.8839798

Bottomless Tree

Location: 33.4143639, -85.8800354