PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN Hike | New Year’s Day Weekend in Alabama | January 1-2, 2016
New Year’s Day Weekend Hike :: Alabama’s Appalachian Blue Ridge segment; Cheaha Wilderness and surrounding trail areas.
A 19.2 mile, two-day loop with a PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN first timer….
TRAILS: PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN Loop (Pinhoti trail, Skyway Motorway Trail, Lakeshore Trail, & Chinnabee Silent Trail).
JANUARY 1, 2016:: The trip started out at Adams Gap Trailhead (1,447′) with friend (and first-time Cheaha area hiker), Josh Belcher.
We descend 6.6miles down Skyway Motorway Trail plunging into the valley through rolling Appalachian foothills that contains the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corp made 17acre Chinnabee Lake (809′).
The streams and creeks were swollen versus their normal depth due to all of the major rains & flooding recently.
Being deeper than normal, we found ourselves taking off our shoes only once out of two creek crossings on the Skyway Motorway Trail. We were able to strategically place a few rocks into the first swollen stream crossing to prevent us from taking our shoes off.
On the next crossing we weren’t so lucky.
The depth of Hubbard Creek required us to remove our shoes & socks in order to negotiate the cold, almost knee deep crossing.
After drying our feet and eating an early lunch, we get back on the trail hiking through Loblolly pine groves and hopping over wet-weather spring streams that were running well with cold, clear spring water.
As we trek along the ridge, we hear Chinnabee Creek and her falls shushing through the stately wooded stands. We find ourselves flirting with momentary gorge views of the white waters cascading across her rocks. As we hug the side of the ridge, we finally make it down to a higher than normal Chinnabee Creek. Prior to crossing over, we decide to walk down potentially around Chinnabee Lake via the 2mile Lakeshore Trail in hope to avoid a swollen and cold Chinnabee Creek ford.
We have time on our sides’ as we have made excellent time and ample sunlight left in the day. So this decision seems to be warranted given we have around 4 hours of daylight left in the day.
We make it down to the Chinnabee Lake Dam to witness no available crossing without treachery. The water tumbled over the large and small stones washing the water into white turbulent rapids too dangerous to attempt a crossing. So we backtrack to the original Chinnabee Creek crossing point where Skyway Motorway Trail dead ends into the Chinnabee Silent Trail. We take off our shoes after rock-hopping to a large rock in the middle of Chinnabee Creek to step into the very cold water for the last 10 to 15 feet to successfully traverse to the creek’s bank.
After successfully negotiating the crossing, we ascend 3miles up Chinnabee Silent Trail (815′) passing by Devil’s Den to camp at the Cheaha Falls Shelter(1,154′).
We build a fire as the evening draws down to a cold night. After partaking of some coffee and hot chocolate post dinner, we climb into our sleep systems to get some sleep for the next day’s remaining 8.7miles.
The next morning, after some french pressed coffee from Josh’s MSR Windburner coffee press, we break camp and rock-hop across Cheaha Creek at Cheaha Falls just below the shelter.
Our day’s plan is to end up back at Adams Gap from whence we came.
After hiking to the HWY281 crossing 1mile away from Cheaha Falls, we come to the Turnipseed Trailhead and enter the Talladega National Forest.
We continue our ascent up the ridge for an additional 2miles over streams, rocks, and free-flowing wet-weather springs to the Pinhoti, Chinnabee Silent, Odum Scout Trails intersection (2,184′).
We then trek southbound on the Pinhoti Trail to take in the multiple rocky out-cropping valley views, cross the wonderous mountain-top springs of Little Caney Head, experience the Pearly Gates, and descend Stairway to Heaven.
After 6miles on the Pinhoti Trail, we end up back at Adams Gap Trailhead completing another successful Pin-Sky-La-Chin hike while introducing another hiker to the beauty & ruggedness of the Cheaha Wilderness.
Total mileage completed for this hike that included around 1 mile on Lakeshore Trail was 19.2miles in 2 days.
To celebrate the successful, injury free hike, our post-hike meal was at Mellow Mushroom in Oxford, Alabama. I can say the pizza satisfied our hikers’ hunger.
Until next time and see you on the trails,
ADDITIONAL PICS OF THE PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN LOOP HIKE::