The Pinhoti Trail is a 335 mile Southern Appalachian Mountain trail located within the states of Alabama and Georgia. The Georgia Section is 164 miles with the last 35 miles running through this area terminating with the Benton MacKaye Trail near the Cohutta Wilderness. In fact, the highest point in the trail is Buddy Cove Gap, with an elevation of 3164 feet near the Cohutta Wilderness.
If one so desired they could hike the Pinhoti Trail to its northern terminus and then go east on the Benton MacKaye Trail for 70 miles to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, GA. This page will focus on the last 35 miles of the trail that begins in Murray County, GA.
The Pinhoti Trail runs into Dalton, GA finishing on top of Dug Gap Mountain near Dalton State College and from here the trail is road section all the way to Dennis Mill Road in Murray County, GA. A new section of the trail was added in 2013 with an enormous new trailhead located off Dennis Mill Rd. The trail section from Dennis Mill Road to the top of Cohutta Mountain is 15 miles and requires logistical planning if hiking end to end since a round trip of 30 miles is unlikely for a day hike. Here is a 3-D map for better reference. Just zoom into the southwest part of the map to see the Dennis Mill Rd trailhead - www.caltopo.com//m/20LG
So instead of starting at the Dennis Mill Rd trailhead this page will describe the trail starting from Fort Mountain State Park which is the old Pinhoti Connector trail and very much still in good shape. This is a 10 mile section that hikers can easily car shuttle since the trail begins on top of the mountain at Fort Mountain State Park. From there it goes into the valley and after 2.5 miles connects with the Pinhoti Trail coming in from the Southeast. After this junction the Pinhoti Trail eventually ascends the mountain ridge ending on Hwy 52 on the Murray - Gilmer County line. The car distance for shuttling is little over 6 miles. Some people leave their vehicle at this junction and bike to Fort Mountain State Park to begin the trail.
Fort Mountain State Park is easy to get to either from Hwy 52 going east from Downtown Chatsworth, GA or if coming from Ellijay, GA go to its downtown and follow Hwy 52 West. Once in the park there is a $5 daily parking fee. After getting the pass the best place to park is just inside the entrance. The beginning of the Pinhoti Connector Trail is almost directly across Hwy 52 slightly to the right if approaching from this direction. Look for an old forest service road with a gate.
Starting from an elevation of 2,674 sq.ft. the trail quickly descends hugging the mountain for almost a mile before leveling out somewhat and coming up on a hairpin turn around the 1 mile mark. Take the hairpin turn to the left and the trail continues now on an old Forest Service Road for the next 1.3 miles before junctioning with Forest Service Road 3 coming in from the Northeast.
Take a left onto Forest Service Rd 3 and go approxiamtely .1 - .2 mile and take the first left onto another Forest Service Road. This is the official Pinhoti Trail which came up Forest Service Rd 3A from the Southeast. It takes a right on this same forest service road if hiking in from the Dennis Mill Rd trailhead.
Once on this forest road you will go approximately .5 miles arriving at a creek on the right and shortly after crossing it the first of several times. In this short section you may encounter the weekend red neck camper with their ATVs.
At mile 3.4 you will see a Pinhoti Trail marker and a short distance from here an iron gate on the forest service road. Once around the iron gate there is no longer any possibility of being iritated by ATVs.
For the next .6 miles the trail continues through the valley along a pretty creek that sporadically veers off and on with the trail. At mile 4.0 the trail comes to a beautiful big wildlife clearing. After traversing the wildlife clearing the trail continues for another .8 miles going east through the valley before finally beginning its ascent back to the top of the ridge.
For the next approximate mile the trail will gain 700 square feet in elevation. There are a couple of junctions that appear you may be able to go right. Do not go right but continue left or straight on the trail. At mile 5.7 the trail arrives at 4 iron poles marking the end of this forest service road and junctioning with another. Take a left onto this forest service road.
The next 2.2 miles will be along the top of a ridge and will pass some large boulders on the right near the 6 mile mark. This section will continuing ascending to a little over 2,800 square feet, the high point of this trail, before descending rapidly on the forest service road almost 200 square feet before arriving at a gate on your right at the 7.9 mile mark.
This gate is easy to walk pass since it is not readily apparent the trail continues past this gate. There is a Pinhoti Trail marker on the trail approximately 100 meters pass the gate. Continue around the gate and the trail continues for another .3 miles before veering off to the left onto a footpath for the final 1.8 miles of the trail.
This final section of the trail is really nice passing through the forest before arriving at the Murray - Gilmer County line at mile 10. There is parking space here for approximately 2 to 3 vehicles and a beautiful view of the Cohutta Wilderness across the road.
Your vehicle should be parked here if shuttled or if you biked to Fort Mountain State Park parking your vehicle earlier. If you take a right onto Hwy 52 and continue another .5 miles the Pinhoti Trail continues section 16 of Georgia veering back into the woods on the north side. This point is 800 feet west of the exit road from Cohutta Overlook and features a large Forest Service sign.
This is the pdf guide to the Pinhoti Trail from 2013 - Pinhoti Trail Guide. It does not include the updated section from Dennis Mill Rd.
|Pinhoti Trail Section|
|Type:||Point to Point|
|Access:||Fort Mountain State Park|
|Parking lot at Front Entrance|
|Fort Mountain State Park:||2,674 feet|
|Low Elevation:||1.667 feet|
|Features:||Wildlife Clearing, Idyllic Creeks|
|Well-maintained, Summer Trail|