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Hiking Nubbin Creek / Pinhoti Trail in Cheaha Wilderness

In March, I went on my first solo backpacking trip. It was only a single overnight. The weather forecast was all over the place, so I settled on the Cheaha Wilderness in Alabama, ironically the day after a huge system of storms came through. I’ve hiked the Cheaha Wilderness before, so I was fairly familiar with the area.

The drive was straight-forward – mostly down I-20. The roads were even paved almost to the trailhead. It’s pretty amazing how accessible some National Forests are.

The Nubbin Creek Trailhead is a small circular parking lot surrounded by trees. There are several social trails going into the forest*, but the actual trail was marked with pink surveyor tape. I knew that I was on the right trail because there is an information board a few yards into the Forest.

*I do recommend using either downloadable map from OnX, US Topo Maps, some other competitor, or from the US Forest Service that shows property boundaries. There are several farms, houses, and logging operations near the trailhead. You don’t want to wander onto private property.

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The trail makes its way through some planted pin before paralleling a stream. There are a few rhododendron tunnels that might make the trail appear overgrown in the summer. But past the first stream, the trail is fairly well maintained by volunteer crews – even during COVID-19 (thank you!).

Nubbin Creek trail starts gaining elevation by looping inside and up ridge coves coming off the main spine of the Cheaha Wilderness. Each cove has a stream with a feeder pool.

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During heavy rains, the creek crossings might require some effort. Using a long branch, I was able to rock hop across and stay dry.

The hike is lovely with a few views, even in the Spring. There are several streams and lots of water sources.

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The Nubbin Creek Trail intersects with the Cave Creek trail about halfway through its length. I continued up the Nubbin Creek until I found a nice established campsite.

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In the morning, I continued up the Nubbin Creek Trail to its junction with the Odum Scout Trail. This section of the trail runs along a narrow ridge with several high points. There was *a lot* of blowdown. Most of it required some zigzagging, but was mostly fine.

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At the end of the Nubbin Creek Trail, I joined the Odum Scout Trail to head to the Pinhoti Trail. This section was mostly flat and downhill and well-maintained.

The Odum Scout Trail has a junction with the Pinhoti Trail and the Chinnabee Silent Trail. It’s a really open, and overused area with lots of established rings, benches, and social trails leading in different directions.

There is a sign, but it’s not quite lined up right. I had to walk around and double check with my app that I was headed north on the Pinhoti.

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The Pinhoti Trail in the Cheaha Wilderness has some incredible views around every bend. The views go on to the horizon. I gives an amazing perspective about just how anomalous this ridge spur is.

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You can look up and down the ridge with clear views.

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The only downside is that the trail is also an ankle / knee buster. There is so much rock hopping which really slowed my progress.

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The Pinhoti Trail does intersect a (not well-marked) connector trail that goes up over a steep hump, through a campsite, and down to the Cave Creek Trail.

The Cave Creek Trail is a very nice trail with lots of streams and interesting flora.

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The Cave Creek Trail intersects with the Nubbin Creek Trail that I used to retrace back to the trailhead.

On a random Spring weekend, it was me and one other group backpacking.

By Nate

I'm Nate Shivar - I live in Atlanta and love exploring the city, outdoors, books & Internet. Read about me, my Now page, or my work.

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