4-H Center to host statewide Alabama Hiking Trail Society conference

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

Outdoor enthusiasts will flock to Shelby County in early March.

The Alabama Hiking Trail Society is having their annual statewide conference at the 4-H Center on March 9-11.


The Environmental Science Education Center is where the conference will be held on March 9-11. (Contributed)


The conference includes over 18 presentations on local trail adventures, state trail news, wildlife, trail building and other topics. The conference’s keynote speaker is Michael Leonard, founder of the Alabama Trails Association and the man who led efforts to connect Alabama’s Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.

“While the weekend will focus on hiking and backpacking, there will be something for all outdoor enthusiasts,” said Joe Cuhaj, President of AHTS.

“Topics will include flora, fauna, history, destinations, protecting the environment, and much more,” Cuhaj said.

According to Cuhaj, the conference holds something of interest for every level hiker.

“For beginners and novices there’s going to be a lot of hands on experience, Mountain High Outfitters will be there to demonstrate different equipment. There will be a course on how to use a map and compass and a course on cooking on the trail,” he said.

The three-day event will begin with a meeting of the state’s Alabama Trails Commission, which attendees are welcome to be a part of.

“For hikers who are concerned about trails and want to come voice their opinions to the commission, it’s a great time to do that,” Cuhaj said.

Cuhaj also said that there would be numerous historical presentations this year, including presentations on Native American trails, the efforts to restore the Desoto Scout Trail, and the newly uncovered Old Federal Road, which was the principal transportation route between the eastern seaboard states and Mobile and New Orleans from 1805 into the 1930s. The presentation will also focus on the efforts to preserve the Old Federal Road and make it a trail.

Tom Cosby with the Alabama Appalachian Trail Initiative will speak about efforts to bring the southern trailhead of the Appalachian Trail to Alabama.

“That has been a source of a lot of talk amongst hikers and it literally takes an act of Congress to be done,” Cuhaj said.

The deadline to register through AHTS is on Feb. 1. Attendees that register after will have to do so through the 4-H Center and purchase admission and meals separately. Registration is available by mail or online at Con2012.hikealabama.org