Leaders from the Pinhoti Trail Alliance, city of Cave Spring and a number of trail enthusiasts snipped the ribbon to officially open a new section of the two-state trail south of Cave Spring on Saturday.
Randy Minton, a cyclist from Piedmont, Alabama, said he has hiked virtually all of the trail from near Sylacauga, Alabama, to Cave Spring and was excited to ride the freshly rerouted almost 3.5-mile section of trail. It takes hikers and bikers off logging roads and through the woods from Santa Claus Mountain to the Cedartown Highway about 2 miles south of Cave Spring.
He said it took him about two weeks to go from Sylacauga to Esom Hill during a through hike about two years ago.
“I like being out there, desolate or whatever you want to call it,” Minton said. “There are shelters approximately every 10-12 miles on the Alabama side of it so there’s somewhere to stay.”
Minton said that he believes trail supporters all over the east coast are getting the word about the Pinhoti, and as more of it is blazed off existing roads, the more popular it will become.
Mark Edwards helps maintain the entire section from Cedartown Road to the state line.
He said use of the trail is really picking up, and he’s seeing a lot more mountain bikers and horseback riders on weekends.
Cave Spring City Councilman Tom Lindsey said the community has really seen a dramatic change in the number of cyclists and hikers coming through town.
“We’re still working on our connection from Cave Spring to the Silver Comet Trail, and we’re making headway. It just takes time,” Lindsey said. “The connection of the Pinhoti Trail has turned out to be a blessing for Cave Spring because we have lots and lots of tourists coming into the community.”
He said he believes the city can complete a connection from Rolater Park in Cave Spring to where the trail hits the Cedartown Highway within 24 months.
Sandra Lindsey, director of the Downtown Development office in Cave Spring, said Cave Spring ends up being a rest stop for through-hikers, those going from Sylacauga to northeast of Chatsworth.
“Some stay one, others might stay two nights here,” said Sandra. “Some have supplies shipped here and they pick them up at the post office and others purchase their supplies here. We’re seeing one or two almost daily coming through on the Pinhoti,” she said.
The DDA director said a lot of the visitors have kept in contact with her office through a blog or Facebook page.
“That just spreads the word about Cave Spring further and further,” she said.