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I hiked the Pinhoti from Cheaha Park to Chinnabee Silent Trail—about 7-8 miles. It’s a beautiful trail with great views, but some sections are under-maintained, making it very easy to lose the trail.

Before backpacking I camped (really just slept in my vehicle) in the primitive camping area at nearby Cheaha State Park. The park is atop Mt. Cheaha, offering camping, hiking, hotel rooms, cabins, chalets, and a restaurant, where I had a decent hot buffet breakfast.

I met friends at the Turnipseed Campground, just 10 minutes South on Hwy 128. That also looks like a great place to camp, and offers honor system payment and convenient location to the trail. We left a car there and drive another to the trailhead north, just past the park.

The highlight of this section of the Pinhoti is McDill Point, a picturesque stone outcropping offering stunning views of the forrested valley.

South of McDill Point the trail gets very faint in spots, sometimes disappearing in high grass, other times obscured by rock fields. Several times we had to search for the blue blazes it even backtrack a bit because of confusing paths leading in several directions. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the blue blazes marking the trail.

We camped in an open area at the intersection with the Chinabee Silent Trail, with a couple of stone fire rings, plenty of downed firewood, and a small stream at the south edge of the campsite.

Overall I would recommend this trail to anyone looking for a challenging hike with spectacular views. It can be combined with the Chinnabee Silent Trail for a 2- or 3-day backpacking trip that is very scenic.

A nice long tiring hike. Mostly in the shade, lots of climbing. There are several places where the AllTrails route takes you off the trail. Ignore it and take the trail instead. The worst is about two miles in — there’s a newer little section of the AT you want to take. Be sure to take the quick detour to Owen’s Overlook on the MacKaye section of the loop! It’s only an extra minute, and really the only clear view on the entire walk. Plenty of campsites along the way but you can also camp at the trail head, which is great. You can start your day with a little easy walk to the nearby falls before diving in to the main trail.

One last thing: if, say, you have cold fresh peaches in a cooler in your car, don’t forget to put them in your pack. There are several places where you’ll want to reach in there for a delicious juicy peach, and it would be a real shame if they were still in the car. A real shame.

This is a more strenuous hike than moderate. Can’t imagine bringing my dog

Beautiful. Loved the views. Multiple snack encounters. Each with copperheads and very large rattle snack. Otherwise lovely!! Haha!

walking
1 month ago

For an Alabama trail, this one is very nice. Not hard at all, and offers some cool views of downtown Birmingham.
Worth the while to go up the steps to Vulcan Park and view the city/take photos from up there!

walking
2 months ago

Beautiful scenery along the paved trail. I went on a Sunday evening with my dog and the trail had people on it every now and then. Types of people on the trail: bikers, leisure walkers, fast pace walkers, runners. Would be a great place to take a relaxed stroll with a friend or ride your bike without having to worry about traffic.

trail running
2 months ago

There is a western trailhead located just off of Greensprings Highway with parking, but it is a bit hard to find at first. It’s located just across from the Goodwill location and next to Hubbard. Entry is marked with a small Kiwanis sign by the road.

This parking area certainly makes the trail much more convenient to access from this side of town.

My wife set out to run it during lunchtime recently but found it a bit too isolated to feel comfortable running alone.

mountain biking
2 months ago

Cheif Ladiga Trail is a great ride. The diversity you get to see riding it is really incredible. My dad and I have enjoyed biking together here several times. He's even rode from Jacksonville to Georgia. Looking at hitting the trail Thursday afternoon with my dad and daughter. Being able to spend time in the outdoors with my Dad who introduced me to the outdoors when I was just a kid , now being able to share my love for the outdoors with not only my Dad , but my daughter as well is wonderful. Not many places for young kids to ride like this piece of heaven we have right here in our backyard.

road biking
2 months ago

We rode our bikes on this trail. A good portion of it is paved and relatively level. Occasionally you would get a great view of the city but for the most part you're looking at kudzu. Eventually, the trail turns into from pavement to gravel and your in a more wooded environment. Nice little urban trail though.

2 months ago

As urban walking trails go, it's one of the best. accessible to suburbs, great views of city, parking for visitors, its free...

Nice hike. Mostly in the shade. Better views in the fall

trail running
2 months ago

Fantastic now that the trail has been completed. Can’t recommend it more highly.

love this trail for long runs when I'm in town. friendly runner and cyclist all along.

hiking
3 months ago

Did the loop for the first time last week (early June). Counter-clockwise. Obviously the bugs were out and the trail was starting to get overgrown with weeds in a few places. Didn't seem anybody had been on it too recently and lots of spider webs to negotiate. Not bad though, as the hard-packed trail is still easy to follow, but would imagine it would be uncomfortable soon. In some areas I was walking through weeds and shrubs on the trail, so grateful I was in long pants. 1 tick and a couple of chigger bites is what it cost me. Temperature was not bad, but ended up using a lot more water than I thought I would. In the rocky sections of the Pinhoti and stairway area I needed to find the marks on the trees to follow the trail. It was fine, but had to double back a couple of times. That is the most difficult part, the Chinnobee Silent is easy, and the skyway probably moderate. I hiked 13 miles the first day and camped by the water a couple of miles into the skyway trail. I missed the water crossing where I camped and again had to double back past the campsite to find the path. No big deal, just lost a little time. Be careful to notice the painted trees if you are by yourself, and note that the actual path is hard packed and easy to stay on. Looking forward to doing this in the fall, winter or spring when things would be more ideal

road biking
3 months ago

Really liked this trail we rode from Piedmont to the Georgia line and back. Trail could use some repairs in spots due to the roots making the asphalt bulge just be aware of it could cause a wreck. Overall though it was a great ride will definitely go back!

3 months ago

the completed trail is so much fun to walk the dog on. my new favorite trail in Birmingham

road biking
3 months ago

Great morning ride. Low humidity. Lots of shade. Not too crowded once you’re away from Smyrna about 9 miles. Then a superb lunch at Mccrays Tavern

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful paved path that is nicely shaded on a hot day. Very easy to navigate with plenty of space for everyone on the trail. Easy to do five miles without realizing it!

backpacking
5 months ago

Skyway Trail to Chinnabee Silent Trail to Pinhoti Trail

This is mine and my wife's second time completing this loop. The first time (going counter-clockwise) was a nightmare. We got lost around the trail change from Chinnabee to Skyway and ended up having to spend an extra night out.

Clockwise was a much easier to navigate route. On Day 1, we went from the Adams Gap trailhead to the Turnipseed Campground just off US 281. You get deep in the woods pretty quickly on this section. Occasionally, there's a nice view of just how secluded you are; the surrounding hills will peek at you as you crest a hill only to disappear as you go down the other side. There is no lack of water as there are several easy stream crossings. As you approach mile 7, the Skyway trail gets narrow and steep leading down to the Cheaha Creek crossing just before it flows into Lake Chinnabee. This crossing can be tricky if there's been recent rainfall but a patient rock hop will keep you dry. Once over the creek, you'll be on the Chinnabee Silent Trail. The Chinnabee Lake parking lot with restrooms is a relatively short walk NW, but the trail continues E. The Devil's Den area after this is a steady, rocky ascent. Once through this area, you'll resume the steady up and down that characterizes the Appalachians and their foothills until you arrive at the Cheaha Falls shelter followed by the beautiful Falls themselves around 9.5 miles in. This is the same water source that flows through Devil's Den and into Lake Chinnabee that you crossed a few miles back. Just over one more mile gets you to the Turnipseed Campground where there is plenty of space to pitch a tent (finding a flat area is a trick, though). There is a $5 honor system fee to camp here. Just past the campground there is a small creek at which I'd advise you fill up your water cache for the night and for the day ahead.

On day 2, we finished the loop with a pretty grueling climb and descent of Talladega Mountain (actually a mountain mass of which Cheaha Mountain is the highest peak). From Turnipseed, you'll gain ~917' in just under 2 miles (a 9% grade on average). As you crest that climb, you're at the Little Caney Head Campground at which you'll take a right onto the Pinhoti Trail. A less steep ascent gets you to 2,217' of elevation, the highest point on this loop (for comparison, Cheaha is at 2,411'). There's an almost unimpeded 180 degree westerly view from this point and it was a much needed 45 minute lunch break for us. After this ridge, you dive down immediately losing 752' of elevation in 0.9 miles (approx. -16%). The Pinhoti undulates but continues to lose elevation for another 2 miles after this. As the loop nears completion, nearly a mile of climb appears out of nowhere, the trail reasserting its dominance as if the earlier ridge weren't enough. To finish up, you fall 0.3 miles downhill back to your car.
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With GPS for reference after some of the creek crossings, through campsites and at trail junctions, the trail is relatively easy to follow. There are a few service roads that cross the trail near the outset; take care not to let your feet get distracted by them.

Happy trails!

on Skyway Loop Trail

hiking
5 months ago

I hiked this trail yesterday from Adams Gap moving counterclockwise. First - it is not 17.7 miles, but 18.8 miles. I think I have seen someone else mention this. When you are exhausted from hiking this in one day, then finding out you actually aren’t finished, but rather, have one more mile to hike is not good news. Second, your feet are going to get wet. Just go ahead and baptize them early, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Yesterday, the creeks were high and the current was stronger than I have seen it because of all the rain Saturday. I spent 20 minutes trying to find a safe place to walk across at Chinnabee Lake area. The waterfalls are gorgeous on the Chinnabee section, and the rock gardens on the Pinhoti are just beautiful - although make for a very slow ascent to Pearly Gates. Skyway section is great exercise because it is rolling hills most of the way with a good uphill run at the end. This trail is rated moderate, but there are definitely hard sections. The trail is well marked except for the section coming down off Pinhoti all the way to Devils Den. It got a little tricky in a few areas coming down after I left Pinhoti, and I was thankful for GPS to show me where the trail was. There is one creek crossing about 2 miles from finish to Adams Gap that is a T where one creek meets another, and it is a bit confusing because of a campsite being there which dissolved the trail. There are markings here, but it took me a minute to find them, and at 5:45 I was pretty nervous about getting lost! All in all, a good, but EXHAUSTING hike! It would be much better and more fun to take in two days with a camping buddy.

this is a challenging loop hike, but worth the rough trail to see the gorgeous rocks and river. i hiked 201>209>202 on a clear cool april day. a previous hiker posted here that she had to ford the river twice. i instead stayed on the river's right bank. old trail was present, several old campfire rings too, but so many downed trees and steams to leap across that i lost the trail several times, ranger station had warned me, lots of starter saplings, etc. mostly flat terrain, just the descent/ascent to the river canyon had any incline. lots of animal tracks by the water -- deer, raccoon, bear. maps are accurate about location of trails but not always accurate about the water.

road biking
5 months ago

Hey man it’s the Silver Comet Trail. What a great place to ride in the shade.

hiking
5 months ago

I loved this trail. So many areas where you are hiking along the water. We did the skyway loop in one day going counter clockwise. It was exhilarating and exhausting! My hiking partner is 5 months pregnant and was able to complete it - only becoming tired the last 2 miles of the 18. ( she was already an avid hiker so no worries...). I would like to note that going CCW, we completely lost the trail around mile 13. We bushwhacked for approx. 45 minutes until we backtracked far enough back to finally discover that the trail takes a very sneaky hidden 180* jump across the creek. There are no blazes at this area to tell you to cross. Besides that, the waterfalls and beautiful terrain, I fell in love with it.

backpacking
5 months ago

This is one of my favorite trails. We joined this trail from the north from the Pinhoti trail at Cheaha State park. The skyway trail from Adams Gap to the intersection with the Chinnebee Silent trail has numerous small stream crossings and two "significant stream crossings" . The Chinnebee Silent trail section of this loop has more foot traffic a two waterfalls (Devils Den and Cheaha). You have to make a crossing at the top of Cheaha Falls. Great camp sites, lots of water, rocky and some gradient.

We started at the Cheaha State Park end of this art of trail as part of a three night backpacking trip in the area. Over the first 5-miles there are some incredible vistas over the lower land to the west. There is no water sources on this part of the trail. There are several good campsites and there is a very good area (no view) at the intersection with the Chinnebee Silent Trail. There are several fire rings and water source at that site. There are numerous water sources on the trail from the intersection to Adams Gap. There is one very steep downhill going south, and the trail generally has some tough footing in places because of the rocks.

trail running
5 months ago

The trail is now complete from Vulcan Park to Green Springs Highway. The path is easy and flat, but the run up Red Mountain to the trail justifies the moderate rating. (There is a parking lot at the trail.). The view of Birmingham justifies the fourth star. Nice addition to the Red Rock Trail System!

Was a great hike lots of pretty views. I would rate the hike more on the strenuous side rather than moderate. The loop could use some more paint on the trees but pretty easy to navigate. We found one beautiful waterfall. Well worth the visit!

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome trail. Was my first solo trip, started counter clockwise and climb to the top of the mountain the first night after a late start. I didn’t find the stairway to heaven that terribly hard but definitely very rocky on the way up and down. There was a nice overlook camping spot at the top of the the mountain at like mile 4.1 or so (before the pearly gate). Stayed there the night sunset and sunrise was amazing, enough room for a 1 person tent. Rest of the trail on the pinhoti was fairly straight forward, once you get to the Chinnabee silent trail play close close attention to blazes. After hitting cheaha falls is very easy to get lost, ended taking a detour on a car trail (I thought was part of the loop) to CR 385 to rd 646 to lake chinnabee since I didn’t want to turn around.... but was a pretty awesome place. I missed devils den unfortunately but hikers I met said it’s an awesome swimming/ cliff jumping spot. Once back on trail at lake chinnabee you have to cross a decent creek... the Skyway part is not very visible and very hard to see only found it bc of some other hikers tbh. After getting on skyway though it’s a basically a straight shot till you hit pinhoti, those rolling hills will kick your but though. Would be a moderate 2 night hike and an ambition 1 night hike after a late start. You can pick up a map in the way at the turnipseed trail head along the way.

Plenty of water along the trail and the rock gardens along the trail are a real treat for any hiker. One of the best section hikes in the state.

enjoyed this late winter hike but let the tick season begin. found two even after liberal application of Deet.

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