The Pinhoti Trail

About 15 years ago I became particularly interested in a trail called The Pinhoti. The Pinhoti trail begins in Alabama and extends through Georgia to meet up with the Benton-MacKaye Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness. The Pinhoti, however, is not yet finished completely in Georgia, particularly toward its northern end as it reaches Dalton. This page is provided to share some information about the Pinhoti, focusing mainly on the GA Pinhoti. I have found several sites describing the Pinhoti and giving some information, but I hope what I have to share will be useful to many people looking to enjoy this trail.

I have hiked portions of the GA Pinhoti several times, mostly between Rome and Dalton, GA. I look forward to thru-hiking the entire Pinhoti trail some time in the next few years, as soon as work and school will allow. In the meantime, I plan to continue to enjoy what I can of the trail during shorter weekend trips. Below is an account of my first backpacking trip on the Pinhoti.

I backpacked a portion of the GA Pinhoti Trail some time ago. I enjoyed it thoroughly and have decided to share a little about the experience. We started our hike from the Pilcher’s Pond trailhead across from the Keown Falls area on Pocket Road. We hiked over Horn Mountain, across GA 136, and up Mill Creek Mtn. On the last day, we hiked back down to GA 136 from our campsite atop Mill Creek Mtn. I’ve decided to give a bit more detailed description of our hike than might be found at some of the links below. Our group had a late start on Friday night, so making sure we found our path proved trickier than it might otherwise have been. We had only the brief description of the trail provided by Marty Dominy (found here). We tried our best to follow Marty’s directions, but we ended up walking in circles nonetheless. The majority of our problem must have been the dark, however. We missed our turn several times due both to tall grass and the dark, moonless night. So, here’s what we found:

Driving north on Pocket Road from the Pocket area North of Rome, GA, we found our trailhead just off the road on our right. You will see the road for the Keown falls area directly across the road on the left. The trailhead has a small parking area before a road barrier. We followed the wide path past a sign and a small pond on our right shortly after starting down the trail. This is not Pilcher’s Pond. The wide path continues on through the woods until there is a (almost) fork in the trail. In the dark, we chose the clearer of the options as it seemed the trail we were on continued to the left anyway. Don’t go to the right. It will in fact get you where you are going, but it is not a part of the Pinhoti. Further down the trail you should notice a badge with a turkey’s foot on a tree to let you know you are on the Pinhoti. Shortly after sighting that badge, the landscape opened up into Pilcher’s Pond. The night of our trip was beautiful and cold and the stars were perfect points of light. The trail runs across a raised section of earth to the right of the small fishing pond. On the far side of the pond we found an information board and picnic tables. We saw a Pinhoti badge on the board. OK, here is where we started to go astray… The trail has a natural flow to the right, into the woods. This is where the right fork from earlier comes out. If you take this without paying attention, you will walk in a big circle. This may be more obvious to you if you visit during the day, but maybe this will help you if you get a late start like we did. The actual trail turns to the left past the information sign. We had to wade through tall grass and mud the night we were there, but maybe that can be avoided. Beyond the grass at the edge of the woods, you should find a small, wooden bridge. This leads you into the woods onto a distinguishable trail with another badge. From this point on up the mountain, the trail was pretty easy to follow, but I want to make a few points… First, and this should not need to be said, but please, dont’t take any of the badges down for any reason! At night, we desperately needed those to assure we were still going the right way. Second, most of our group were fairly experienced backpackers, but we ended up having some minor difficulty in an unfamiliar place on a dark night. I don’t doubt we would have had no trouble during the day, so I am writing this mostly for those who may need that help in the dark. Third, a point about campsites. You will find few suitable sites for camping on this particular stretch of the Pinhoti. There appeared to be a few decent spots not far from Pilcher’s Pond before the trail became steeper. The next spot was a couple of miles later at the top of Horn Mtn., as we just crossed over the other side.

That particular Pinhoti experience was very enjoyable despite our fumbling of directions at the beginning. I hope this account will be useful to someone. Enjoy the Pinhoti!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my several hikes along the GA Pinhoti and look forward to an opprotunity to hike the AL portion as well. Someday, perhaps I’ll get to through-hike the entire Pinhoti. I encourage you to check it out if you’re ever in the area looking for scenic trail with an interesting story.