Planning an outing on Alabama’s premier hiking route, the Pinhoti Trail, can be frustrating. Because it is a linear pathway, you either have to do an out-and-back walk or make it a one way trek, which involves the added expense and time of shuttling automobiles. Yet, if you study maps, you’ll discover there are a few circuit hikes focused on the Pinhoti.

One of the nicest is in the Lake Chinabee/Cheaha State Park area. The approximately 17-mile moderately strenuous trek (there are only a couple of long uphills), makes use of the Pinhoti, Chinnabee Silent, and Skyway trails. I’m suggesting you do the hike now because there are quite a few fords (along some dazzlingly pretty streams) and water flow should be low at this time of year. (Do keep in mind that this is also hunting season.) The leafless trees will permit many views you wouldn’t have in summer, while white quartz outcrops provide a number of excellent vistas. Plus, temperatures in Alabama should be warmer than just about any other place in the southern mountains.

Among other incentives for you to go are several waterfalls, a trailside shelter for overnight accommodations, and reminders of a small community that was abandoned during the Great Depression.

All of the trails used in the loop are marked on the Pinhoti Trail Map #4 available from www.nationalforeststore.com.