Reviewed by: Nathan Watson
Advocates proposing extending the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Georgia into Alabama via the Pinhoti Trail picked up two powerful allies this week—the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as well as Alabama State Parks.
One of America’s most popular and iconic long distance trails, the Appalachian Trail’s present route begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin, Maine.
A Terminus at Cheaha State Park
The Department of Conservation supports the Appalachian Trail extension efforts, including the idea of one day placing the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus at Cheaha State Park, Alabama’s highest peak.
ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship is a big booster for the extension.
“There’s something magical about the idea of linking Maine’s highest peak with Alabama’s highest mountain,” he said in a Department news release. “Hikers who complete this feat would have the satisfaction of having traveled the entire length of the Appalachian Mountains in America, and it would also realize Benton MacKaye’s original idea of linking Maine with Alabama.”
Conservationists in Alabama and Georgia have been working for decades to add approximately 314 miles of the Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail.
The Pinhoti Trail, which was named by Outside magazine one of the ”best hikes to take on earth in 2020,” meanders through several Alabama counties, mostly through the Talladega National Forest. The trail continues into Georgia via the Georgia Pinhoti Trail, traverses the Chattahoochee National Forest and ultimately connects with the Benton MacKaye Trail. The MacKaye trail provides the final link to the current southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia.
Amending Federal Law May be Needed
Extending the Appalachian Trail into Alabama may require amending federal law and navigating federal bureaucratic obstacles. However, that hasn’t deterred advocates from working to make this extension a reality.
How to Support the Movement
Interested in supporting the Appalachian Trail: Maine to Alabama effort—or what proponents call AT2AL?
“Hikers can now purchase a medallion for $10 from the Cheaha camp store that can be put on their packs to show their support for extending the world-famous Appalachian Trail to Alabama,” said Tom Cosby, an advocate for the AT2AL movement.
T-shirts and stickers with the AT2AL message can be found in the camp store as well, and all proceeds will benefit the Alabama State Parks. “Our goal is simply to raise awareness in the hiking community that bringing the AT to Alabama is, really, a culmination of Benton MacKaye’s original dream from 1925—and a reminder that the Appalachians begin in Alabama,” Cosby said.
Visit AT2AL website to support their campaign and get updates.
Will the southern terminus of the AT end in Alabama? Stay tuned.
Have you hiked the Pinhoti? Tag @Thebamabuzz on social media and tell us whether you support extending the AT into Alabama.