PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN Hike | New Year’s Day Weekend in Alabama | January 1-2, 2016

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….

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TRAILS: PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN Loop (Pinhoti trail, Skyway Motorway Trail, Lakeshore Trail, & Chinnabee Silent Trail).

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CHEAHA AREA TRAILS

 


JANUARY 1, 2016:: The trip started out at Adams Gap Trailhead (1,447′) with friend (and first-time Cheaha area hiker), Josh Belcher.

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THE START – Adam’s Gap Trailhead

 

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OLD CCC CABIN CHIMNEY

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.

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 HOPPING STRATEGIC ROCKS

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.

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HUBBARD CREEK

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.

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CHINNABEE CREEK

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.

 

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CHINNABEE LAKE DAM

 

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.

 

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OVERLOOKING DEVIL’S DEN

 

 

 

 

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′).

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STANDING AT THE DEVIL’S FALLS

 

 

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DEVIL’S DEN FALLS

 

 

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CHEAHA FALLS SHELTER’S VIEW

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.

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CHEAHA FALLS SHELTER – Formerly Caney Head Shelter that stood at the intersection of the Pinhoti, Chinnabee Silent, Odum Scout Trails 3 miles away.  Due to the Wilderness Act, the shelter was remove via Alabama Air National Guard “Lifting” helicopter to place it above Cheaha Falls outside of the Cheaha Wilderness. 

 

 

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CHEAHA FALLS – 1mile from Turnipseed Trailhead


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.

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OUR CROSSING POINT AT CHEAHA FALLS

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.

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TURNIPSEED CAMP AREA
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TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHEAHA WILDERNESS

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′).

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PINHOTI-CHINNABEE-ODUM SCOUT TRAILS

 

 

 

 

 

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PEARLY GATE’S VIEW -Looking north toward the Appalachian’s southern Blue Ridge segment; Mount Cheaha (2,413 ft) 
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PINHOTI TRAIL-Native American (Creek) word for “Turkey Home.”

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.

 

 

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VIEWS FROM THE ALABAMA PINHOTI TRAIL
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PINHOTI TRAIL’S STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
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PINHOTI BLUE TRAIL BLAZES
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ROCK GARDENS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PIN-SKY-LA-CHINN LOOP – 19.2miles(Josh’s longest per day mileage to date)

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,
JBEN

 

ADDITIONAL PICS OF THE PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN LOOP HIKE::

 

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2 Comments

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  1. Mitchell Biessenberger January 25, 2016 — 1:14 am

    Thanks Jeff. I really enjoyed reading your blog. My plan was to break the ice and go for a walk this weekend. Honey dooz pulled me into the black hole again. I guess there is next weekend again. Keep them coming because your hikes give me the imagination and encouragement to keep striving to get me on the trail. Beez

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