Pinhoti Trail 2006

April and I took a hiking trip on Section 6 of the Pinhoti trail during spring break in March. This is a photo journal of our trip. All photos were taken with a Nikon N80 using a Nikon 28-200mm lens on Velvia 100 film.

The drive from Albany GA up to Cheaha wasn’t too bad. We picked up US 431 in Phenix City and stayed on it until it crossed Hwy 281. This is the dead-end scenic highway from our trip to Chinnabee. The first photo is a panoramic from the first scenic stop we found on this highway.

We found a guy named Justin from another post who will provide a shuttle service to nearby trailheads. If you need his phone #, drop me a line. He gave us a ride up to the place where the Pinhoti crosses 431. The Pinhoti is blazed with a blue stripe and some kind of turkey foot marking (Pinhoti is an Indian word meaning “Turkey Home”). Occasionally there are blazes using the Pinhoti placard:

We hit the Pinhoti some time around 4:00pm and hiked for about an hour and a half before we heard the sound of water. On the way, we found crossed this bridge – the only bridge over the smallest stream!

The reason we picked this section of the Pinhoti was for the waterfalls. I think they rivaled the falls that we saw in the Deep Creek area of the GSMNP. The first waterfall (there are two) has an upper and a lower section. The upper section is almost vertical with the water flowing down a rock face.
I had read about a campsite at this first waterfall, but we had to look pretty hard before we found it. It looks like the trail used to run right by it but has been re-routed. It’s downstream a bit from the first waterfall.

I don’t have any pictures of this campsite, but is has a stone fire ring with some other flat stones propped up for back rests. It was a nice night – didn’t even need the rain fly on the tent. The next morning, we got up and took some photos of the waterfall.

We had breakfast, coffee, & hot chocolate and packed up camp. There was a cold front coming through, and the plan was to make it to county road 24 before lunch.

There were a good many ups and downs between the waterfalls & CR 24. I still haven’t figured out why the trail didn’t run along a ridge line like the AT does most of the time. It would run about 15 ft below the ridge – we never could get much of a view.

As I mentioned earlier, there were no more bridges on this section of the Pinhoti:

After the ups & downs, we made it to CR 24 around 10:30am. There was another small waterfall here that I had not read about. I wish that I had a trash bag to pick up some of the bottles & other trash that was all over the place. Apparently it is close enough to CR 24 to be a popular place to picnic.

We ate the rest of our trail mix (I really wish we had taken some more) and headed across CR 24. We passed another semi-established campsite near a stream. There were some chairs left here (near enough to CR 24 I guess) so we took advantage and filled up on water. Here’s a picture of me & my new hat:

After passing the campsite, the trail followed an old forest road for about a mile. After that, it was all up & down again. I wish I had an elevation profile of the section between CR 24 and Hubbard Creek – I don’t think there is a flat piece of land between the two.

In the mid-afternoon the clouds started rolling in so we decided to camp at Hubbard creek if we could find a good place. We knew that a cold front was coming through with a good bit of rain. We finally made it to Hubbard Creek about 4:00pm. Luckily there was a campsite on the other side of the creek so we wouldn’t have to cross it in the morning. This creek was knee deep at the crossing with moss-covered rocks on the bottom.

After playing in the creek for a while, we set up camp, filtered water, and got ready for the storm. The clouds were really starting to roll in by this time. For dinner we had angel hair pasta with herbs and lemon-pepper tuna from a foil pouch – not too bad.

Soon after we finished eating and cleaned up it started to sprinkle a little. We were pretty sheltered from most of the wind, but we could still hear the thunder as the front passed over.

The next morning when we woke up it was about 40 degrees. I’m really, really glad that we crossed the creek the day before! We made breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail.

 

Not too far after leaving the campsite, we crossed a power line. The trail is pretty hard to follow through here because of all of the tree tops laying around. After we found our way across, there were several more ups & downs along with more stream crossings.

We had a few spots along a ridge line where we could see a bit across the valley. I think I could make out Anniston in the distance. We came across this bus near an old road through the mountains.

After a few miles of not knowing exactly how far we had been, we made it to the CCC road. According to our map, it was only 2.5 miles to Blue Mountain shelter. The problem was that the marker at the CCC Road crossing said there were 3 miles left! A half mile makes a big difference when you’re climbing 500 feet!

After it is all said and done, I believe that the map is correct. It still adds confusion during the hike though. We had gone a bit past the CCC road and found this little guy sitting across the trail – it was pretty cold and he didn’t move much.

Besides two deer on a ridge across the valley, it was the only wildlife that we had seen on the trail (named after Turkeys at that!) We started the final climb up Cheaha mountain. This was the best piece of trail so far in my opinion. Every so often, we could catch a glimpse over the mountain tops. We came to a rocky ridge between Cheaha mountain and Blue mountain and rested for a while. It was quite nice to lay out in the sun on a mountain top. If anyone happens across that spot, please look for my clip on sunglasses!

After this, we passed another sign that said 1 mile to Blue Mountain shelter – We thought we’d already been 2 1/2 miles since the CCC road! Again, it was only a half mile (if that) to the shelter. They really need to take down those signs. The shelter is in very good shape, but I didn’t see any water too close to it. Now that I think about it, there wasn’t much water since we crossed the CCC road. We found a lot of small waterfalls and streams flowing down the mountain from the shelter to the park though. We also came across some views like this one:

All in all, I think it was a good trip – my wife may disagree. Though the trail sucked in most places, there were good waterfalls and streams to camp beside. We didn’t pass a single person on the trail.

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