Weogufka State Forest, Alabama
NOT ONLY ARE local nonprofits buying up private land to reroute the Pinhoti’s road walks onto wilderness trails, but they also want to extend the Appalachian Trail to where the Pinhoti crosses Flagg Mountain, the southernmost 1,000-foot peak in the Appalachian Range. It’s bigger than Georgia’s Springer Mountain, where throngs of hikers (and their tent cities) have overrun the southern terminus of the AT. Advocates say Flagg’s size and CCC cabins, which could be adapted for hikers, will relieve overuse at the current AT starting point. Long trail legend and former AT record holder Jennifer Pharr Davis is on board: In March, she’ll thru-hike Alabama’s 170-mile portion of the Pinhoti Trail to raise awareness for the underrated route, which ducks through quiet, leafy corridors, fords small creeks, and passes rocky overlooks above the rolling green hills.
You can follow in her footsteps. Hikers (and their tourism dollars) can do a lot to persuade local residents to support proposed Pinhoti Trail improvements by demonstrating the economic benefits that come from welcoming walkers (see page 41). From the Flagg Mountain summit, hike a 4-mile lollipop-loop on new trail: Follow yellow then white blazes to historic CCC cabins, then make a steep, .3-mile climb for views of Alabama’s rounded summits. Retrace your steps on the return, and turn it into an overnight if you’d like; dispersed camping is allowed. Tip: Time it for mid-October when the slopes explode with crimson and yellow.
TRAILHEAD Flagg Mountain (32.9729, -86.3487) SEASON Year-round PERMIT None CONTACT pinhotitrailalliance.org