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GPTA Update


Rock Creek at Dennis Mill in Fall of 2009

 

 

Update from the GPTA BOD

The Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association (GPTA) Board of Directors (BOD) had their bi-annual meeting in Cave Spring Georgia Saturday, February 20th. The board officers are listed on the web site (www.georgiapinhoti.org). The main function of the board is to coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders toward the development and maintenance of the Pinhoti Trail in Georgia (PT). Since the PT in Georgia is a multi-use trail we have board members representing hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. The entire Pinhoti Trail stretches from central Alabama to the Benton MacKaye and is over 330 miles in length at this time. The Georgia section is about 155 miles long. In addition to having BOD representatives from the users groups we have geographical representation along the route as well. We have two directors from Dalton, one from Murray/Gilmer Counties, one from Rome, and one from Summerville. We also have two from around the state and one from North Carolina.

We move our board meetings around the trail route. Cave Spring is the southernmost city on the Georgia portion of the PT. It is a quaint little town with a great “Trail Town “ feel. We have purchased some very nice metal trail signs for guiding users through the city limits of Cave Spring.

The PT is a great trail in its own right but it also is a part of several other trail systems. It serves as a link from the Appalachian Trail (AT) to the true end of the Appalachians in Alabama. It accomplishes this by linking to the Benton MacKaye Trail which in turn links to the AT. It also serves as a link in what is informally called the Eastern Continental Trail that links trails from Key West, Florida across the United States and Canada. Several people a year attempt this journey made famous by M.J. Eberhart aka the Nimblewill Nomad in his book Ten Million Steps. The Pinhoti will also serve as a leg of the Great Eastern Trail (GET) that is now under development as a north-south route west of the AT that links to trails in the Finger Lakes region of up-state New York. The PT will serve as a link to the AT for the GET as well as being a part of its route.

At the BOD meeting we discussed several of our more pressing initiatives. Larry Wheat has been spear heading an initiative to build a multi-use trail system off the Pinhoti at Dry Creek on the Walker and Chattooga County line. He is working closely with U.S. Forest Service personnel. Several user groups have agreed to help with this project. There is over $100,000 of federal money involved in this project. Parts of it will be contracted out and parts will be built by volunteers. This is a beautiful tract of land and will be a great asset for equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy.

The Conservation Fund has been very active behind the scene securing important tracts of land for us to improve the PT and get it off of some of the roads. They have recently acquired 3 tracts of land to this end. I will talk about these from south to north as this is the way most through hikers walk the trail. One is right across from the PT parking lot on GA Hwy 100. This is allowing us to build about a 1.5 mile connector trail to the Simms Mountain Trail that will eliminate a little over a mile of road walking on GA Hwy 100. We have this route roughed in and voted to spend enough funds to get a volunteer with a mini excavator to push in the trail. We will need volunteers later this year to do finishing work on this trail. This and the Simms Mountain Trail will offer about 14 miles of almost flat hiking, biking, and horse riding. It is the easiest section of the entire Pinhoti and is very family friendly. It is also just a couple of miles from Sloppy Floyd State Park with cabins and camping facilities.

Another Conservation Fund project is adjacent to the Chief Vann House in Murray County. The PT is linked to Sloppy Floyd and Fort Mountain State Parks by connector trails. The PT currently goes right by the Vann House. This new addition links this beautiful state historic site to the other state properties. The Conservation Fund acquired land to the east of the Vann House. We have plans to route the PT off of ALT 52 across Vann House property and this new property to the east crossing ALT 52 at the Moravian Cemetery and through Spring Place on its way to Dennis Mill where it reenters the National Forest.

The next project made possible by The Conservation Fund is at Dennis Mill. Currently the Pinhoti enters the National Forest via Peeples Lake Road. This is a dirt road that is open to automobiles. We have been trying for years to get the PT off of this road and into the woods around Dennis Mill. We now have that opportunity. We are currently working on a trail between Dennis Mill and Peeples Lake Road. We have done some preliminary flagging and hope to start construction on this project in the next 2 years. Our intent is for this to be open to horses, bikers and hikers. This should be a boon to all the user groups but I think given the horse loving nature of Murray county it will really be special to them. This is going to require about 3 miles of trail to be built over some very tough terrain. It will open up about 9 miles from Dennis Mill to Baker Branch at the foot of Fort Mountain. We will have plenty of opportunities for volunteer work on this section.

These three land projects are in addition to the several hundred acre tract that The Conservation Fund secured several years ago at the Georgia/Alabama line southwest of Cave Spring. That allowed for development of a 2.7 mile trail corridor for the Pinhoti Trail that leads from the state line to the trailhead at Jackson Chapel Road in Polk County.

The GPTA BOD is a very active and dedicated group. We do a lot of behind the scenes work and as I said we try to facilitate action from our stake holders. If you would like to make donations you can do it on our web site. You can also make donations to The Conservation Fund on their web site. If you are a member of an organization that would like to get involved with the PT please contact us. If you would like to join a group that is already involved with the PT you can find a list of them on our web site.

Happy Trails to You

Rick Moon President

Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association

 


Our Mission

To promote, develop, and maintain the Georgia Pinhoti Trail System that:

  • Connects major long-distance trails in Alabama to the Appalachian Trail via the Benton MacKaye Trail, and

  • Enhances user value by connecting to and supporting establishment of local official trails

  • The Association advocates safe, environmentally sound multi-use trails shared by hikers, equestrians, and off-road bicyclists. Our activities are completed in close cooperation with the trail volunteers and various land managers, especially the U.S. Forest Service.

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