If approved by the U.S. National Forest Service, a proposed project will make it possible to hike from the Cahulga Creek Park in Heflin to the Pinhoti Trail.
The 2.1 mile spur would link the park on Mountain Street with the Pinhoti Trail at the Shoal Creek Ranger Station to the west, all within the boundaries of the Talladega National Forest.
Mark Truett and Adam Dasinger, local men who are proponents of the project, have been instrumental in telling the Forest Service about the potential benefits of the trail. Dasinger, principal of Pleasant Grove Elementary in Hollis, has made a slide presentation of the trail spur in hopes of persuading the Forest Service to approve the trail. Dasinger’s slideshow will be presented at the Heflin City Council meeting in March.
“The Pinhoti in Alabama starts in Coosa County at Flag Mountain which is the southernmost peak that’s 1000 feet or higher. It goes into Georgia and it connects to the Appalachian Trail,” Dasinger said.
Dasinger said that you could start hiking in Coosa County and walk all the way to Springer Mountain, Ga., and then all the way to Maine.
“The Pinhoti trail comes within less than a mile of Heflin,” Dasinger said.
Tanya Maloney, economic developer for the City of Heflin, said if the spur is approved it will help develop the area for outdoor tourism. Maloney said that Heflin is part of Tour East Alabama which promotes the entire region as a destination.
“Ecotourism — looking at what natural resources we have here and capitalize off of those,” Maloney said.
“Cahulga Creek Park is a huge asset to the City of Heflin. It was announced yesterday that we are a new birding site on the Alabama Birding Trail,” Maloney said Thursday.
Maloney said that Dasinger lobbied hard for a resolution — already approved by the Alabama Legislature — which allows for signs which will alert motorists on Interstate 20 where the Pinhoti Trail crosses. The signs will have white letters on a brown background reading Pinhoti National Recreation Trail on Alabama Highway 281 on each side of the bridge crossing Interstate 20 and on the bridge crossing U.S. Highway 78 near Heflin.
Maloney said that State Sen. Gerald Dial sponsored the resolution in the Senate and Rep. Bob Fincher sponsored the resolution in the House.
Dasinger said that during his travels he has seen numerous signs noting that the Appalachian Trail crosses an interstate and he wanted Heflin to have the same type of signage for the Pinhoti Trail.
Truett, 48, a small business owner and lifelong Heflin resident, is avid an outdoorsman who’s familiar with the twisting trails and which snake through the Talladega National Forest. Truett laid out the route of the proposed Heflin Pinhoti Trail spur.
“I had been walking around some existing trails near the watershed and remembered that there was an old road bed from here through to the Pinhoti that we used back in the ’80s,” Truett said.
Truett said he remembered the road as Skyline Drive.
“So I just decided to hit the trail one day and find my way back through there,” Truett said.
Along the proposed trail is an old hydroelectric dam which first generated power for the city years ago, according to Truett. Other features include an active railroad track and a creek known as Rocky Creek.
The highest point on the spur is about halfway along its route — 1200 feet near Forest Service Road 536 — and the lowest point is 975 feet at Forest Road 500 parking lot / Pinhoti Trail / Norfolk Southern railroad crossing.