AHTS was established on September 17th, 2001 as 501 c (3) non-profit corporation. We actually began this journey with a meeting in Dothan, AL, on July 20, 2001, at the Army National Guard Armory. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tim Spivey, M. J. 'Eb' Eberhard, and Rick Guhse' watched this incredible meeting unfold. The following day another group met in Andalusia at the library. Later that morning we elected our first state officers with Sgt. Tim Spivey as President. Chapters formed in Dothan and Andalusia but have ceased functioning as chapters. Instead, we have a statewide membership who participate in activities all over the state throughout the year.
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History of the AHTS
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At Grass Roots, AHTS' conception as told by Rick Guhse, founding member

"After completing a sectional backpack trip of the Florida Trail in 1998 I decided to hike from the Alabama-Florida State line where the Florida Trail terminates. This is where the Conecuh National Forest and the Blackwater River State Forest meet. At the annual Florida Trail Conference in the Spring of 2001 I mentioned that I would be starting a hike through Alabama. Two friends asked to go along, Dr. Gary Buffington and Beth Kelso. There was no trail and no trail blazes. We walked forest roads and highway roads. We had been given a route put together by Jay Hudson and Maggie Wade, both of whom later became Members of the AHTS. 

StarNews1 1Leroy Zinkan and his family welcomed us into their home in the Conecuh National Forest. We camped in their yard. They fed us deer meat biscuits in the morning before we left. Ed and Emily Rutledge put us up at their home in Montgomery, drove us around town picking up supplies and treated us like honored guests. I'll always remember their kindness. We walked up to the tower at Flagg Mtn. and looked forward to arriving at the mountains in Talladega NF 20 miles or so away. Churches along the way opened their doors and gave us sanctuary and showers. Strangers drove up with chilled water and food. People said they were expecting 'the hikers.' 

StarNews2 1It was at Second Baptist Church of Weogufka that we met Kent and Angel Cooper who have proven to be trusted leaders and key trail development Members within the AHTS. It was at Second Baptist Church that Beth received prayer that must have touched her deeply because she went off to be alone. It was Mother's Day and Church members brought food from their homes to share at Church that night and invited us to joined them. I'll never forget the kindness of these wonderful people. 

I didn't know it but the next day was to be Beth's last on the trail. As we walked along she suddenly decided that her hike was over. She turned around and walked back to a convenience store we had just passed and made some calls. Gary Buffington had dropped out much earlier. It's a weird feeling to suddenly be walking by oneself after having been walking with a partner. Seven days later I ended my hike at Heflin. Nimbelwill Nomad picked me up after 31 days. I came back later and walked into Georgia to Dalton. 

All along the hike I talked to people about hiking trails and forming a state trail organization that would truly represent the state by promoting the planning, development and maintenance of trails in every county. Everybody seemed to be in agreement that this was a worthwhile goal. However, I didn't know what to do with this concept for a state trail organization as I didn't live in Alabama." 

 

Organizational Synopsis

260 history5lowWe began a state hiking organization with a dream and a clear vision of what a hiking trail system could be in Alabama. While there had been and still are regional organizations promoting hiking and in some cases multi-use trails, the Alabama Hiking Trail Society promotes a wilderness footpath from the Florida National Scenic Trail on the AL-FL state line in the Conecuh National Forest to connect to the Pinhoti Trail which is being extended south from Porters Gap to Overbrook, AL. Equally important the Society promotes a connected hiking trail system throughout the state. 

This is what sets us apart. Our goal is statewide. We don't want to leave any county out. We propose to achieve our goals by building trails locally where we live always with the idea in mind that at sometime in the future our local trails will one day connect to a statewide trail system. This is important because through achieving these goals we promote the concept of a Greenway wilderness corridor system where not only people are free to roam long distances but larger species of wildlife will have freedom to roam throughout the state. In promoting Greenway wilderness corridors we protect and preserve wilderness for future generations. With the demand for development increasing with America's ever increasing population we must act now to have wilderness for Alabama's future generations. 

You, our Members, are the pioneers who have grasped this vision and know what it means. Future generations will thank you even though they never met you because you invested your time, your sweat and your money in their future. And we all had a good time doing it. From our humble beginnings with a state office in Andalusia we now have a centrally located office in Montgomery with three Members doing volunteer work at the office. Our Membership is now led by President Mike Kennedy and our Members are working harder than ever to plan, develop and maintain more hiking trails around the state. It's a great time to be a hiker in Alabama.