Could Alabama be the New Appalachian Trail End?

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PIEDMONT, Ala. (AP) _ A group of boosters want to extend the Appalachian Trail to begin in Alabama, instead of the Georgia starting point it has now.

The Alabama Pinhoti, running about 130 miles from central Alabama to the Georgia state line, is longer than most main trails.

But some advocates want it to officially link to the mighty Appalachian Trail- the 2,175-mile path that runs from Georgia to Maine.

When the Appalachian Trail was first laid out in 1925, drafts included an extension to Birmingham that was never blazed. But volunteers in Alabama and Georgia have worked for more than two decades to pound out their own path that could eventually extend it to the foothills of Alabama.

Dave Startzell, president of the Appalachian Trail Conservance, said the Pinhoti could theoretically become an expansion of the Appalachian, but it would first require an amendment to federal law and approval from two Cabinet secretaries.

Alabama boosters, though, are undeterred. The Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce is trying to build buzz among hikers. Some proponents are talking about giving cash incentives to hikers who start the Appalachian Trail in Alabama.