New portion of Pinhoti Trail opens
by Emily Adams
National Forest workers and volunteers gather at Trammel trailhead to recognize the completion of the 140-mile Pinhoti Trail at a dedication service Friday. The final 10-mile portion of the trail is now open, extending from the Trammel trailhead near Sylacauga to Bulls Gap south of Talladega.
NATIONAL FOREST — The Talladega National Forest celebrated the opening of a new, 10-mile portion of the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail with a dedication service Friday.

The new section runs from the Trammel trailhead, about 7 miles east of Sylacauga off Forest Service Road 603, to Bulls Gap just south of Talladega. It represents the completion of the 140-mile trail that has been a work in progress since the 1970s.

“We’ve been working on this last section for three years or more, so it’s amazing to me that it’s completed because we’ve now got it finished across the National Forest,” said Talladega District Ranger Gloria Nielsen. “If it weren’t for all these dedicated volunteers and partners, we would not have gotten it done. It’s been a great group effort.”

Many groups contributed to the final portion of the trail, including the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Boy Scout Troop 39, the National Forest and various volunteers.

Nielsen said its completion will hopefully be an additional draw to the already popular Pinhoti, which links into the Appalachian Trail.

“It’s a very popular trail,” she said. “We’ve got some people who come from the New England area to volunteer. It’s a big draw, and this final portion is just going to be another piece of the puzzle to make it successful for the public to enjoy the National Forest.”

The dedication service coincided with National Public Lands Day, which is being celebrated today across the country. While volunteers gathered to work on the Pinhoti Trail Friday, Nielsen said the public is also invited to work at the Pine Glen Recreation Area in the Shoal Creek district of the National Forest today.

“Public Lands Day is an opportunity for the public to come out and volunteer,” she said. “It’s a great way to help people be aware of their National Forest and take advantage of its beauty.”

National Forest architect Marcus Ridley gave a brief history of the trail at the service Friday, noting the many people that helped to make it a reality.

“It has been, and is still, a long and winding trail, but the National Forest in Alabama, with the help of all the volunteers and with activists groups, never wavered from their goal of seeing this fine recreational opportunity constructed,” Ridley said.

Planning for the trail began in 1972, and the initial trail section was started in 1973 near the Coleman Lake area, progressing south at four to six miles annually in the years following. The Talladega District of the trail began with the help of the Youth Adults Conservation Corps summer camp at Ft. McClellan and volunteer groups. The Northern section from Coleman Lake began later, and cooperation with Alabama State Parks then extended the trail through Cheaha State Park. Four decades and many volunteer hours later, the trail is complete.

“Truly the agency’s motto of caring for the land, serving the people has never been more applicable than at this moment,” Ridley said.

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© 2012