Explore the most popular birding trails in Talladega National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great place for a short backpacking trips. We were able to carry one liter of water each without running low due to the stream that the trail follows.

backpacking
1 month 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
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month 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
2 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.

We camped at Sweetwater Lake which has no showers, toilets or other fancy things and we loved it! We parked our cars right by the lake and set our tents right by the lake. We hiked the trail there and back which was pretty tough just because of the overall distance but there are no challenging areas though. My dog loved it!

hiking
2 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.

Great unique trail. Has rocks thru out and challenging in spots.

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.

hiking
2 months ago

This trip kicked our tail. We went counter clockwise so we could hit the mountain first. Climbing the mountain had tons of rocks so be extremely careful not to twist an ankle. The path down was very similar. Once you make it to Chinnabee Silent Trail near the next railhead it levels out and is incredibly enjoyable for the next 5 miles. trail is 6 miles of rolling hills. You have to cross 3 creeks so be careful to spot the correct trail. The last 3 miles are mostly uphill and we were exhausted. Barely made it due to exhaustion. Having said all this, this is absolutely a trail worth taking. A beautiful view from the top of the mountain, gorgeous waterfalls, rolling hills, canyons, pine thickets, and some killer camping spots. The distance wasn't bad, but the elevation certainly was. Next time I'll make it a 3 day tip and preserve our strength.

hiking
3 months ago

Counter clockwise is a good way to go. That puts the big climb up the mountain first. Lots of nice views up there. The trouble with the rest of the trail is the creek crossings and the lack of signage. Yup, it's a wilderness. But it seems like every time you reach a creek the trail dissolves on both sides of the water. Almost none of the creek crossings are obvious or directly where the trail meets the water and then picking up the trail on the other side becomes a chore.

I give this trail 5 stars for fantastic views. Several good camping spots. Not many water sources.

backpacking
5 months ago

We did this loop counter clockwise on Thanksgiving weekend and it was definitely a challenge. There is a lot of ups and downs and a ton of rocks from mile 2 all the way through mile 5. It was a great view at the top of the first mountain, but it just about killed me to get there. We had 5 guys that were probably overpacked for a 3 day hike. The reviews we read about this loop never stated anything about how bad the rocks were. As stated below, the blazes could be better. All in all it was a great trip, just wish I was better prepared and in better shape!

hiking
6 months ago

Not a mountain biking trail. Great hike... be prepared full loop is quite the hike!

Second time we tried to reach the so called Skyway loop trail and directions don´t end up taking you there, on top of it it is not a Mountain bike trail as claimed on the app,

Very easy with my 81 year old mother. Helping her stay active

I did Cheaha to Adam's Gap as a pacer for the Pinhoti 100. None of it was runnable at night. This was very technical with skinny slanted trails that didn't seem like they had been traversed a lot. Nevertheless, this is beautiful country and the fall colors were amazing at this time of year.

Well marked trails, beautiful scenery....next time I’ll give myself a few more hours to explore.

Hiked this trail in late summer so it was pretty grown up with a lot of large fire ants. The view was grown up for most of the hike but there was one beautiful over look! The map is off and takes you on an old logging road at one point. This is not a loop trail but an out and back. Overall the trail is lightly travelled and peaceful! It is challenging enough with plenty of flat stretches and nice breezes!

6 months ago

Hiked 12.5 mile of trail (out/back) - very nice and adequately blazed - ran into no others - easy creek crossing - great Hike. Look forward to doing the full loop in near future!

Didn't go on the entire hike but the first portion of it is great! Lots of terrain/scenery changes and some good lookout spots here and there. Well marked trail.

hiking
8 months ago

I hiked the entire length of the Odum Scout trail on Thursday, September 21, 2017. As Chip J. said, it is in terrible condition. We began at High Falls and ended at Turnipseed, picking up Chinnabee Silent trail at the end of Odum Scout trail. Since I've been on this trail a dozen times or more, in passable conditions, I was able to make it through the six feet tall vegetation that has grown up and reclaimed portions of the trail on the ridge tops along Cedar Mountain and Caney Head. I then decided to adopt the trail to clear it until it's passable. I am a volunteer for Wild South and our first work on Odum Scout trail began today. We brushed about 3/4 mile beginning at the High Falls trailhead. We did not get to the heavily overgrown parts but we will on the next one for sure. I will be conducting a work day on Odum Scout trail on the last or second to last Saturday of every month until it is finished. If you are interested in joining us on a work day, looks us up at www.wildsouth.org My name is Kim Waites. Thanks!

Great trail for half day adventure .

hiking
8 months ago

my favorite, i go to skyway at least three times per year. walked out on an overnight almost two years ago with wife and apparently on day 2 of a controlled burn. knew immediately i should have checked site the day before. great trail. we go in the middle of the week and in four years ive seen less than ten people during hikes. i like the location

8 months ago

As of today, 9/7/2017, from the Odum Scout intersection with Nubbin Creek Trail, the Odum Scout Trail is in terrible condition. I've hiked this Trail for about 40 years and today, it was in its worst condition- downed trees and overgrown. I aborted my plans to follow it all the way to High Falls. I had started my hike at Cheaha Trailhead.
About January 2016, the Odum Scout Trail was in much better condition as I followed it all the way to High Falls.
I don't abort often, but did so today. I may try again in January or February.
****edit note:
my next hike on Odum Scout Trail, 3/2018, was a much better experience...clear trail, from end to end!

It was an accident - we meant to do the pinhoti to cave creek but ended up hiking the whole pinhoti. Anyway, beautiful hike!

Beautiful falls! Maintenance is needed on the stairs and several downed trees could be cut off the trail to make it better. The trail could be marked better as well. I however really enjoyed myself none the less. I'd definitely visit again.

Great trail for the state of Alabama.

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