HEFLIN — Eight months. That is how long it took for the Pinhoti Trail/Heflin Spur to become reality.
The Shoal Creek District of the U.S. Forest Service last week officially recognized the 2.1-mile Heflin spur of the Pinhoti Trail, which will link Heflin City Hall and Cahulga Creek Park with the Pinhoti Trail at the Shoal Creek Ranger Station to the west.
The city of Heflin will have a ribbon cutting in early November to officially open the spur trail, a blend of an old logging road and Forest Road 553.
Adam Dasinger, a proponent of the spur project, said the Forest Service will be a great partner with the city of Heflin.
“It’s open for business right now,” Dasinger said.
Dasinger said that he contacted another proponent, Mark Truett, last January to walk and mark a possible route for the spur trail.
Dasinger lobbied and got the official blessing of the Cleburne County Commission and the city of Heflin before meeting with forest officials.
After the Forest Service completed various environmental studies and sought public comments the project was approved.
The Forest Service will soon install signs along the route with mileages and three interpretive and informative kiosks, according to Dasinger. Currently the Forest Service is clearing fallen trees and beating back kudzu along a portion of the route.
Dasinger said there will be a memorandum of understanding between the Forest Service and the Heflin Trails Association regarding the upkeep and maintaining of the spur trail.
Dasinger said the Forest Service will install medallions on trees to mark the route.
“The Forest Service is really going all out,” Dasinger said.
Heflin’s economic developer, Tanya Maloney, said that signs will be installed at Cahulga Creek Park, which is city property, highlighting the trail and the park itself, which was recently designated as a birding site.
Maloney said a grant will provide the money for the signs.
The actual trailhead — according to Maloney — will be Heflin City Hall. Signs will direct hikers to Cahulga Creek Park where the trail picks up.
Maloney hopes all the publicity about the trail will attract people to come into the city.
“It means potential business. It means tourism dollars coming into the city,” Maloney said.
Maloney said that she plans to work with local businesses to provide items that hikers and trail-goers need.
The highest point on the spur is about halfway along its route — 1,200 feet above sea level near Forest Service Road 536 — and the lowest point is 975 feet at a parking lot along Forest Road 500 at a Norfolk Southern railroad crossing.
The trail features an old hydroelectric dam and reservoir, an active railroad track and a stream known as Rocky Creek.
Dasinger credits volunteers in the effort to get the trail spur officially recognized.
“It was just an exciting time to see that if you put a coalition of folks together that are focused on what they want to do — well organized — present it, and work through the bureaucracies and work the through the levels; things get done,” Dasinger said.