The U.S. Forest Service extended the trail’s southern end 13 miles south to Sylacauga, near the edge of the forest line.
Last week the Forest Service and volunteers put some finishing touches on the newest portion of the trail, adding a sign near the new entrance, now known as Trammel Trailhead.
“This brings the trail deeper into Alabama,” said Andrew Schock, Georgia State Director of the Conservation Fund. Schock, while based in Georgia, has assisted in the development of the trail in Alabama through his work with the fund.
The Pinhoti Trail began in the Shoal Creek Ranger District of the Talladega forest in the 1970s and the Forest Service has been developing it, piece by piece, ever since. With the completion of the Trammel Trailhead, the Forest Service has no more land to expand the trail through, said Bob Pasquill, an archeologist and historian for the Forest Service.
The trail crosses through pine and hardwood forest, across ridge tops, through hollows and by streams.
“The Pinhoti basically runs the mountains’ spine in Alabama. You’ve got mountain vistas along that trail where you’re not going to see anywhere else in the state of Alabama,” Pasquill said. “There are certain spots where you’re not going to hear any of the modern intrusions.”
From just northeast of Piedmont and running south to a point near Sylacauga, the Forest Service-controlled portion of the trail stretches for more than 100 miles in the forest, but it doesn’t end at the forest’s edge. The Pinhoti extends northward into Georgia, and there are plans to continue developing southward past Weogufka to the Appalachian Mountains’ end in Coosa County, Pasquill said.
Volunteers, a Boy Scout troop and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have worked to finish forging a recent expansion of the trail in the forest since 2011, said District Ranger Gloria Neilson of the Talladega Ranger District.
The newest portion of the trail was forged by hand and with a small tractor. It runs alongside Rebecca Mountain, a ridge of the Appalachians.
The trail’s path is about two feet across and the branch clearing is broad enough to hike through without being bothered by low-hanging limbs, Neilson said.
In Georgia, the Pinhoti connects with the Benton MacKaye Trail, which connects with the 2,184-mile-long Appalachian Trail. The AT, as trail-goers refer to it, runs from Maine across wooded and open land in the Appalachians, but stops in Georgia.
When the AT was developed in the 1920s and 1930s, trail developers envisioned a walking path that would span the length of the Appalachian Mountains, all the way to their southern end in Alabama, Schock said.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.