2008 Journey North-by-Northeast

The Appalachian Trail

Connections - Alabama-Georgia Pinhoti and the Benton MacKaye

The Pinhoti Trail ~ pin-hoe-tee

The 335 mile Pinhoti National Recreation Trail / Millennium Legacy Trail is a continuous point to point hiking trail that travels through nearly equal measures of high rocky ridges, stream filled gorges and quiet hollows along the final southern reaches of the Appalachian Mountains from east central Alabama to northwest Georgia. In Alabama it is almost entirely in the Talladega National Forest, Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust. In Georgia it is mostly in the Chattahoochee National Forest and on private land easements with roughly 50 miles of road walk in 2008.

In 2008 the trailhead was ten miles east of Sylacauga at Bull Gap. The Pinhoti southern terminus is now in east central Alabama at Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka, which is known for being the last southern Appalachian mountain that rises above 1000 feet. Tannehill State Park located south of Birmingham claims to be the Southern Most Terminus of the Appalachian Mountians. For the record, I have been to the absolute southern point of the Appalachians while kayaking the 631 mile Alabama Scenic River Trail in 2009.

The Pinhoti northern terminus is in north-west Georgia near Blue Ridge, about 11 miles south of Tennessee, where it intersects with the Benton MacKaye Trail around milepost 70.

The Benton MacKaye Trail

Hiking east 70 miles on the BMT will put you at Springer Mountain, the current southern terminus of the famous Appalachian Trail.

I continued north about 125 miles on the BMT to connect with the Appalachian Trail at the Fontanna Shelter in North Carolina. The Benton MacKaye Trail strives to give the backpacker a more remote wilderness experience than it's big brother the Appalachian Trail. Nearly 2/3 of the trail passes through designated wilderness areas and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. During this nearly 300 mile route, the trail has only two shelters, many of these miles are not blazed, and there are few, if any, trail structures.

Most of the Alabama Pinhoti is truly remote, passing through no towns and one State park, the Cheaha; it does have seven shelters between Helfin and the Georgia border. The Georgia Pinhoti is fairly remote, but mostly the trail simply connects one State or County park to another; no shelters, but walks directly through several towns including Cave Spring and Dalton, and is a multi-use trail, horses and bicycles are allowed. The BMT should be considered ABSOLUTLY REMOTE. On the section that I hiked in 2008 there were VERY few blazes, frequent trail turns without any signage, and one store, Webb Brother's Grocery in Reliance on the Hiwassee River - virtually NO resupply. comparatively, the A.T. is a super highway - scores of people, regular shelters, and crossroads leading to a town every 20 miles. The 90% of the A.T. could be done as a series of Day Hikes - I know a couple of women that slack-packed half of it, literally. Even the famed "One-hundred Mile Wilderness is no more than a long-weekend hike and it's neither wilderness nor 100 miles long.

The Appalachian Trail

Summary: Alabama to Maine on the A.T. - 2,548 miles in 204 Days.

I suspect that I won't write on this section because the A.T. is well covered on the net.

Factual information about the Appalachian Trail can be found at the ATC.

Or: For lies, lies, and more lies - read & follow one of these hikers TrailJournals.com