Section 8

This section is 15.2 miles from Adams Gap Trailhead to Porter Gap (14 miles by my map estimate), the end of the trail. The trailhead is between milepost 54 and 55 on state highway 77. I hiked this portion from south to north, leaving my car at Adams Gap and riding bike to the southern trailhead. The road from Adams gap to Clairmont Springs Rd is gravel/dirt, but was in good shape. I was also hiking during a drought, we have had about an inch of rain a month for the last 2 1/2 months. Any water that I found I'm going to classify as reliable. There were only two sources not indicated on the map and these were flowing just enough to fill a water bottle. So in a very severe drought you might not be able to count on these either. Most of this section of trail parallels a dirt forest service road (FR600). The maintenance for this section of trail is much better than it was, however it is still occasionally difficult to follow, but it does have many markings in the form of white turkey foot blazes and metal diamond Pinhoti trail markers. The markers are aluminum, and notice that some animals have chewed on some of them. This section of trail also boasts many rocks for a good part of the way. I suggest wearing lightweight boots to keep from turning over your ankles.

The trail crosses the paved trailhead at Adams Gap, and continues around the side of a hill. Then you go down a series of switchbacks, cross a reliable stream with a couple of campsites near by (the next reliable water is 8-9 miles). Not very pretty sites, but there aren't many alternatives for the next 5 miles. The trail then goes steeply up the mountain through a series of switchbacks. When you can see the road you are at the top, the trail is level for the next 4 miles or so following just about the top of the ridge. As you near the end of the ridge the trail is in an area with few trees and many thick weeds and briars. The area had been recently cleaned on my last hiked and was fairly easy to follow, however, the trail looks like it will need to be cleaned once or twice a year to stay clear. In the summer it may be completely overgrown. If you do lose the trail just stay on the ridge and you will see the little diamond Pinhoti symbols. The end of the ridge is quite beautiful, with about a 270-degree vista, although there are a few trees around. You can see down the mountain range to what is the end of the trail. From here the trail descends fairly steeply down to a paved road at Clairmont Gap. This section gets a rating of two stars and is moderate to difficult, it is fairly rocky, and not real interesting. The view at the end makes it worth while though.

From Clairmont gap to the first intersection with FR600 the trail exemplifies the worst of the Pinhoti. It traverses the middle of the mountain (which is something you will learn to expect on this trail), meaning it weaves back and forth with the mountain, up and down, and with no view or any other redeemable feature. The trail traverses rocky ground that rivals with the worst of the notorious AT through Pennsylvania. Further, the trail is covered with poison ivy, low weeds, and pine needles that hide the rocks you are stepping on, endangering you ankles every step of the way. At the end of this two-mile trek through the valley of despair you will climb straight up the mountain and rejoice when you cross FR600. This trail gets a rating of 1, and would best be rerouted along the ridge of the mountain. Fortunately, you can avoid this section of trail by hiking up the dirt road to the point where the trail crosses (At least one other hiker agrees that the road is a much more appealing option).

The last 2 1/2 miles to the Chandler Springs railroad tracks are kind of nice. Right after crossing the road you will see an obvious overlook on the left [see picture above]. A very nice one, not as good as the one at Clairmont gap, but worth the time. Also, there is the possibility to camp there, so if you have brought enough water, you can get up and watch the sun rise over the mountains in the morning. However, last time I was there I looked for a level spot for the tent/tarp and didn't see an obvious one, you might do better if you really search around. About a mile down the trail from here, you will find a stream near the top of the mountain that seems to have reliable water, not much when I was there, but enough to fill a water bottle. There are also some potential campsites near the stream as well which will be pretty when it is flowing, the train is very loud here though when it passes. The trail then crosses the road again and descends the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain you must follow the road to cross a bridge and the railroad tracks, the trail continues at a well-marked entrance on the other side of the tracks. This section of trail gets a three star rating and is moderate to difficult.

You have now reached the final section of the trail, a good section to finish on. The trail climbs up steeply from the road to the mountain ridge. Along the way you will have nice views of the valley. On top the trail follows the ridge a while with some large boulders to rest on, and peeps at the view through numerous old oak trees. Lots of wild flowers and some early fall color dotted the trial while I was there in October. Lots of long leaf pine also provide a nice soft forest to walk through, a grateful change after the last 20 rocky miles. In the fall when the fresh needles are falling the smell of pine is everywhere this section is lovely. Best hiked after the leaves have fallen, this section gets a three to four star rating and is moderate. Shirley Watts laid out this section of trail and did a great job with it.

Trail Reports

Date Hiked::
01/07/06
Name:
scrambler & Flwrhead
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The trail from Porter's Gap to Clairmont Gap is in excellent condition. Trail is well marked all the way to the road at Clairmont Gap. Despite it being dry, we found water in the stream at the campsite that solo lists at mile 23.2.

Date Hiked::
01/07/06
Name:
scrambler & Flwrhead
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Date Hiked::
1/7/06
Name:
scrambler & Flwrhead
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We hiked from Porter's Gap up to the FS 600 crossing before the rock garden. Trail is in excellent condition and well marked. There were only a couple of blowdowns, but nothing major. This section of trail is easy walking for the most part.

Date Hiked::
1/7/06
Name:
scrambler & Flwrhead
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We hiked from Porter's Gap up to the FS 600 crossing before the rock garden. Trail is in excellent condition and well marked. There were only a couple of blowdowns, but nothing major. This section of trail is easy walking for the most part.

Date Hiked::
11/25/05
Name:
scrambler
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Flowrhead & I made our first backpacking trip as a married couple over the weekend. We hiked from Adams Gap trail south out to Clairmont Gap (where trail crosses Forest Service 600 and Gunterstown Road; mile 26.9 on solo's guide). Trail from Adams Gap to Burgess Point is well-maintained and marked. Only water we saw was in one of the streams at the double spring crossing (solo's mile 31.9); there was enough water to filter, but there was not much. From Burgess Point to Clairmont Gap, the trail is in very rough shape. In many places there is no dish to follow and more signs (or the more visible blue blazes) are needed since there is no visible footpath. The trail is pretty overgrown on top of the ridge above Clairmont Gap--lots of briars etc. and the trail is hard to follow. Coming down the hill approaching the road crossing at Clairmont Gap, there are a few unmarked switchbacks; keeping up with the trail was very difficult at times. Allow some extra time hiking this section. We saw no hikers or hunters except for at the trailhead.

Date Hiked::
05/18/05
Name:
Mountain Dog
Email:
wjcjec@juno.com
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The Pinhoti NOE has 9 sections. Section 9 runs 18 miles south from Proter Gap to Bull Gap. This trip report is for Section 9 and is included in this section only because there is not yet a section for posting Section 9 reports. Pinhoti-Section 9 (18 May 2005) General: Section 9 has the potential of being one of the best winter hiking sections on the entire Pinhoti because much of the trail runs close to scenic overlooks. Section 9 is an easy trail based on elevation changes. The trail has only one place requiring a break because of the strain of the climb. The trail has not been blazed for hikers. However, the combination of blue survey marks and red survey tapes makes it possible to find and navigate the trail. The trail will become a difficult trail to follow if blazing is not done soon because the survey tape is rapidly disappearing and the foliage is closing in on the trail. Nevertheless, this section is currently relatively easy to navigate once you understand the trail’s basic layout. The trail has few switchbacks and very few places where it navigates around hollows. The trail basically stays near the middle of slopes that gain or loose elevation and the middle of ridgelines. The portion of the trail that is at the top of Horn runs long the top of the mountain and usually fairly near FS 600. The trail has not been plotted on any maps. Therefore, the following descriptions tie to Lat/Long lines that you can plot on FS maps to help you. The maps you need for Section 9 are the “Bull Gap” and “Porter Gap” Quadrangle maps produced by the US Dept. of Interior. I bought mine at Southern Outdoors in Montgomery. The following description is based on hiking from the North to the South, my directions say west if I am heading west of the general North/South trail’s direction and east if I am heading east of the trail’s basic direction and, my description of the trail as being graded refers to those areas where the trail was made by a narrow bull dozier. (My coordinates and my transposition of them from my GPS to this trip report are subject to errors. Use them as a guide only. Do not rely on them and then blame me if you get lost.) FYI, FS 600 north of the fire tower is easily traveled in a truck. I say truck because you need more ground clearance than available in small cars. The road south of the fire tower has some really deep ruts and places where the bushes WILL scratch you vehicle. You can drive from Bull Gap to Porter Gap if you do not mind scratches to your truck. 1. (N33 19.979, W86 01.572) The trail starts south of Hwy 77 and slightly west of the driveway leading to the Porter Gap Trailhead. Blue survey paint indicates the trail and the graded trail becomes evident after a short distance into the woods. 2. (N33 19.953, W86 02.107) This is one of 3 or 4 culverts in this area. I believe Solo (HMTC.ORG) calls these bridges. Most of the trail south of Porter Gap to this point is a graded. 3. (N33 20.103, W86 02.544) This is one of the few areas where the trail follows the slope around a hollow. Still a good graded trail. 4. (N33 20.054, W86 02.980) Still in an area with the trail following slopes around hollows. Shortly before this point I crossed a road, apparently the one mentioned in Solo’s journal. The trail is a little harder to follow at the road crossing when you are headed south than Solo indicated when you are headed north. You will have several road choices to make, and no clear blazes. Go “straight”, you will see the trail pretty soon. 5. (N33 20.106, W86 03.171) Creek crossing. Two creeks come together to make one creek. Looks to be reliable water. 6. (N33 20.135, W86 03.635) At this point you will be at the bottom of the spillway to the lake. There are several trails/roads leading south from this side of the creek. Sit at the bottom and facing the spillway. Look 90 degrees to your right. Go up that creek/trail and you will find markings. The trail “circles” the lake. When offered a choice, stay on the trail that will keep you near and above the lake. Keep the lake to your left. The correct graded trail becomes evident pretty soon. 7. (N33 19.300, W86 03.647) Old roadbed. This part of the trail basically follows the middle of a slope leading up to the crest of Horn. 8. (N33 19.087, W86 03.586) Graded trail and near the top of many switchbacks. At this point the switchbacks have been relatively short. They become much longer afterwards. 9. (N33 18.909, W86 03.579) Trail crosses FS 600. The trail exited the woods at the end of a small road running west of FS 600. The small road (100 yards) had a small loop at its western end. There are no trail marking from the western end of the road until AFTER it crosses FS600 and enters the woods. The trail is not evident until about 100 feet east of FS600. Take it slow and watch for the trail. It becomes very hard to follow as it goes around the radio tower. 10. (N33 18.686, W86 04.181) Wormy Pulpit. There is almost no trail between the radio tower and Wormy Pulpit. Go straight west across FS600 from the road to the radio tower. Take a 45-degree angle towards the south and you will see a small graded section of the tail. This section quickly disappears. You must bushwhack to Wormy Pulpit. If you are headed north, stand at the intersection of the radio tower road and FS600, looking at the tower road. Go 45 degrees to your right for about 150 feet and you will find the trail circling the tower. Do not confuse the graded road around the tower with the trail that is outside the fire/road grading. 11. (N33 18.260, W86 04.192) Graded trail south of Wormy. There are two possible trails headed south from Wormy. One takes you around to the base of Wormy. The other one, the one almost obscure and very near FS600 takes you to the fire tower. If in doubt, take FS600 south about 200 feet and then head west into the woods. You will cross the very clear graded hiking trail that leads to the fire tower. This graded trail will blow your mind. It seems to circle around and head north. Do not worry. Stay with the trail and you will be OK. You will soon see FS600 on you left. 12. (N33 18.065, W86 04.495) The trail does not go through the lookout tower clearing. The trail goes on one side of the tower and FS600 goes on the other side. The trail crosses the small power lines clearing about .1 mile west of and down the hill from the tower. The base of the tower does not look over the mountains. I planed to camp there but changed my mind when I found there would not be a good view. 13. The following are waypoints I made without making trail notes. I present them only to help you find or mark the trail. N33 17.780,W86 04.515; N33 17.630, W86 04.870; N33 17.377, W86 05.074; N33 17.144, W86 05.131; N33 16.830, W86 05.149. 14. (N33 16.554, W86 05.167) Beautiful rock outcropping and view off the western side of Horn Mountain. Absolutely beautiful and on the trail. 15 (N33 15.786, W86 05.075) Big power line. The crossing is at the extreme top of the mountain. From this point, everything east and west is downhill. The trail north to the beautiful view, point 14, is poorly marked. The trail stays near the top of the mountain and not far from FS 600. The trail south of this point is graded for about 100 yards and then it deteriorates till you find the graded trail once again. 16. (N33 15.344, W86 04.937) Graded switchbacks are north of this point. The trail runs on the west side of the ridge and near the top. 17. (N33 14.854, W86 04.969) This is the start of a graded trail. I lost the trail north of here and had to bushwhack to find it at this point. However, the trail from this point north looks OK. I think that as I headed south, the trail made a sudden turn to the west and I missed it. Thereafter I had to bushwhack to find it again. 18. (N33 14.346, W86 04.919) Still on the west side of the mountain ridge. Good graded trail headed down hill. There are some switchbacks between here and the previous point. 19. (N33 13.872, W86 04.780) Crossing to the east side of FS 600. The trail petered out about .1mile before this point. Follow yellow tape. 20. (N33 13.461, W86 04.656) Crossing back to the west side of FS 600. The trail was mostly graded between the two crossings. The distance is supposed to be 1 mile. I walked it in 10 minutes. 21. (N33 12.779, W86 04.225) A small power line comes in from the west and a few yards west of the trail. It really looks funny seeing a power line ending in the middle of nowhere and a meter plug at its base. The land underneath the power line has been kept clear of undergrowth. FS 600 is about 100 yards east of the trail. 22. (N33 11.993, W86 03.927) Bull Bluff. The trail has been graded since the last point. The trail is rough but still OK. The trail here to Bull Gap is downhill and easy to follow. 23. The trailhead at Bull Gap is not easy to find because there are no flags and the trail path is not visible. Park on 607 where it runs into hwy 148. Walk north on 607 till it makes a turn to the east. In the middle of the turn and on the east side of the road are large rocks. The trail exits the woods on these rocks. Ergo, there are no trail signs. Go east over these rocks and you will find the mostly graded trail heading east. The trail goes east till it gets in sight of FS 600. The trail then turns north.

Date Hiked::
03/23/05
Name:
Mountain Dog
Email:
wjcjec@juno.com
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I hiked section 8 during a wet period. Therefore, most of the creeks were full of water. The trail is in relatively good condition. There were not enough downed trees requiring detours to worry about if you are planning a hike. The section from Porter Gap to Talladega Creek is in great shape. I encountered one minor obstacle about 15 minutes north of the trailhead. Heading north from the Talladega Creek to Guntertown Road I found 2 downed trees at the 15 minute mark and then I found three significant obstacles east of Skyway and 15 minutes before the trail recrossed the road to get to the west side of the road. The section from Guntertown Road to Adams is in the best shape I have ever seen it. The briar patch has been burned. The trail can actually be followed without needing blood transfusions from the briar cuts. I encountered 4 blow downs between Guntertown and Skyway. Only one of the trees was significant. I found one blow down on the section east of burgess point. I encountered only 3 blow downs between Burgess point and Adams gap. My compliments to the trail clubs responsible for maintaining Section 8. You have really added a lot of Pinhoti tags and I thank you. The only place that gave me any problem was in some of the boulder fields. The leaves were off so I could find markers in the distance. Blazes on some of the boulders would really help when the leaves are on.

Date Hiked::
01/11/05
Name:
BassClarinetman
Email:
tevanness@juno.com
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Discovered at the last minute that I had 3 days. I decided to hike Sections 8, 7 & part of 6, South to North. Due to the weather system with tornados, I cut the last section out. The blister on my left heel helped make the decision. I put in at Porter's Gap at 0705 and left at 0715. The trailhead was well marked and easy to find. It took me about 1 1/2 hours from Birmingham. The parking area was in good repair with space for 8-12 vehicles. The trail to Chandler Springs was in good shape. Since the leaves were down it was sometimes difficult to see, but there were plenty of the diamond shape Pinhoti markers. AT 40 minutes into the hike there is a campsite for 1 tent. About 9:15 hike on top of the ridge before Chandler Gap, the view of the sun over the misty mountain valleys made the early start from home worth it. I descended to Chandler Gap and watered up. I was only carrying 3 qts and wanted to stay full. I finished off one of my bottles and refilled. At 10:15 about .5 to .75 miles past the road crossing there is a nice campsite with a seasonal stream where I watered up again. Good thing, I found no more easily available water until 1.5 miles from Adams Gap. I had about 1 qt left for supper when I filled up. I found the trail Ok except for several old blowdowns. 11:30 The hike is very nice until you cross the Forest Service Road. Then Rocks forever. Anyone who completes this trail can claim "Dances with Rocks" as his legacy. More old blowdowns and the only water was very difficult to get to down a very steep slope. 1300 Passed through Clairmont Gap with a tough climb. After the climb is a beautiful hike with almost no rocks. Came out at Burgess Pt sign on the Skyway Motorway. 1630 Sun is down behind the mountains and the light is going fast. I just came down a steep switchback to a Forest Service Road and found a spring. As I followed the trail down hill with the light dimming out I came on a small campsite. There is a house on the hill to the east. I can see a security light and wind chimes. If you stop here, look out for the clear spot with a thick bed of leaves and pine straw. There is a big rock in the middle of it.

Date Hiked::
11/24/03
Name:
bryan
Email:
theoiper
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Hiked in very late. Started at the end heading towards Adams Gap. The ground was glowing green in our headlamps from the billions of reflective spiders in the woods. We never found any water, but a local at Clairmont Gap gave us 2 gallons. We didn't take the dirt road. Got lost every now and then. The trail was very overgrown in parts. My brother pointed out a wicked looking spider that was riding on my pack. Here's a picture. (It isn't up at the moment, but will be soon.) http://www.auburn.edu/~allenbb/spider.jpg

Date Hiked::
11/11/03
Name:
Mountain Dog
Email:
wjc1jec
URL:

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TRIP REPORT PINHOTI SECTION 8 (11 November 2003) I hiked north from Porter Gap. (GPS coordinates N33 19.984, W086 01.577) This report is made in 1-hour increments. I stopped hourly (after I had hiked for a full hour) for a break and to make journal entries. Adjust your plans based on your hiking experiences. This was a very dry time on the trail. Wet weather streams had dried up.. Hour 1. Excellent trail because it was well marked, had no trees across the path to speak of, and the vegetation had been cut back away from the trail. In addition to blazes, rocks have been stacked to indicate the presence of the trail. This was a really nice touch. The footing was soft, absent the rocky footing that is a part of a lot of the Pinhoti. There is a rock formation that has a really good view of the land around. I went almost all the way to Chandler Springs during this hour. This means that I was doing about 3 mph. A really fast pace for me and for the rest of the Pinhoti. I rate this section as being very easy. Hour 2. Very good trail. The trail’s condition was similar to that listed for the first hour with these exceptions. The footing was still good but there were more rocks. The trail could use a few more markers after it exits the woods and heads across the bridge. I did not see any blazes after hitting the road until after I crossed the bridge. That was a long stretch without blazes if a person does not know beforehand that the trail follows the road across the bridge. Once across the bridge, you can tell the trail follows 600-2. However, there are no blazes until the trail exits the road. I thought I had missed the exit because I stayed on the road further than I had expected by looking at the map. This section gains elevation and there is pretty vista through the trees. There was a very good stream and good camping sites on the section that is on the east side of 600-2. The map shows a stream heading northwest from Weathers. The stream does not appear to cross the Pinhoti on the map. However, I did walk over the stream and it contained a lot of water. In fact, this stream contained more water than anyplace between Porter Gap and the Cheaha Lodge. There were several places that would make a good campsite near the stream. I rate this section of the trail as being easy to moderate. Side note: The Talladega Creek does not have factories or other stuff upstream polluting it. You can use that water. Better still, there is a pipe coming out of the side of the mountain on the north side of the Talladega Creek and about ¼ mile west of the Chandler Springs Bridge. Some local people get their drinking water from this spring water. Hour 3. This was a very rough hour. The trail changed significantly once I crossed back to the west side of skyway. The trail is very rocky. The rocks are loose and the footing is treacherous. To make it worse, the leaves obscured a lot of the trail so each step was an adventure in itself because you did not know onto what you were stepping. The trail is not as well marked here, as were the first two hours. Still, it has more blazes than most of the Pinhoti. Three different times I started to bushwhack out because I could not find a trail marker. It took me about 10 minutes each time to find the trail. I do not think there is much vista, except to look across the hollows at another side, but to be honest, it took so much of my attention staying up straight on the trail that I did not look around. The best thing I can say about this rock area is that it quit about half way to Clairmont Gap. I rate this area as being hard because of the footing. Hour 4. The first half hour was spent on the rocks I experienced during hour 3. The last half hour was enjoyable. The path was well marked, there were no bushes encroaching on the path, there were no significant elevation changes as you walked along the side of the mountains, and there was a plethora of wildlife. The last half was very enjoyable. Of course, after the rocks in the first half, a visit to the dentist would have been enjoyable. This path was hard during the first half and easy to moderate the second half hour. Hour 5. This hour started at Clairmont Gap (GPS N33.21.65 W085 55.93). This was the most scenic hour I hiked. The ridge trail at the beginning has breathtaking views. Trail maintenance took a turn for the worse once I reached Clairmont gap. Vetetation encroachment was a big problem the first half hour. Also, blazes, or the absence of them, became a problem. There are a lot of blazes, but because of the growth on the trail, blazes are not always where they are needed. Some kind sole painted large white arrows showing the way. They are crude but very much appreciated. The trails footing is pretty good as far as rocks. I’d rate this section as easy to moderate. Easy as to the path’s footing and elevation changes, moderate because of the vegetation encroachment and missing blazes. Hour 6. This was a very good trail to Burgess Point. The trail had good footing, was easy to follow, and the elevation change was moderate. The trail around Burgess point has encroachment problems at both ends. The encroachment is not extremely bad, just a nuisance. After Burgess Point, the trail was more difficult to follow because the leaves obscured the trail. Still, you can follow the trail if you pay attention. There are enough blazes to comfort you that you are not lost, not enough to guide you. I’d rate this trail as easy to moderate because of the elevation changes and missing blazes. Hour 7. This trail was basically a continuation of the trail during hour 6 with two significant differences. There is a creek about 30 minutes into the hike. This is the creek that is about 45 minutes south of Adam Gap. The creek had a low flow but it was plenty sufficient for filling water bottles. A blaze is badly needed where the trail crosses a forest road. The trail angles into the road. The angle makes you think you must follow the road for a while. The map makes it look as though the trail crosses straight across the road. Neither is correct. The trail actually cuts back a few feet on the road and then takes off at an angle and across the road. Signs are good from north to south. Signs are badly needed for northbound hikers. I rate this trail as moderate because the elevation changes are more pronounced as you go around the foot of hills and valleys. Hour 7.2. I reached Adams Gap parking at 12 minutes into the hour. This was an easy path to follow. The rock sidewalk from the Silent trail/Pinhoti crossing was a bore though. I rate this section as easy. GPS coordinates for Adams gap are N33 24.242 W085 52.464

Date Hiked::
09/26/03
Name:
mother theresa / litefoot
Email:
tjmothertheresa@webtv.net
URL:

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Very nice section, cannot recall anything bad, more rocks and overgrowth towards Porter Gap. All in all we enjoyed the Taladega tremensly and are not looking forward to the roadwalk, we are woods people. We do love people and did look forward to learning about Alabama, the history, and backgrounds of everyone. The 200 miles of the Alabama Roadwalk was a learning experience and met some wonderful people, and plenty of trail majic

Date Hiked::
09/20/03
Name:
Mike Kennedy
Email:
yellowtail_59@hotmail.com
URL:

Report

Members of the Alabama Hiking Trail Society performed trail maintenance from Porters Gap to the Talladega River. This first 3.5 miles of the Pinhoti is in great shape. We will start working north to Clairmaont Springs this coming weekend and continue in November on the first Saturday of each month until summer.

Write a report for Section 8

Average Grade for this section is 7%.

Last Hiked: March, 2000

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