07:30:11, Alabama, 33° 53.502’N, 85° 32.918’W – Duggar Mountain is a relatively small wilderness area at 9200 acres located between Anniston and Piedmont, Alabama. Long before it was designated a wilderness area a fire tower once stood on the highest point. Today, the tower has been removed. The road to it has been left to return to nature and is well on it’s way. This is one of those hikes where it’s all about the journey.
Google Earth the above GPS to find where to park off CR 500 and begin the hike. You won’t see any trail markers and the side road you’re looking at is the one you don’t want. Instead turn around and walk across CR 500 directly into the woods and over a short embankment that leads down into a plot of chest high grass. You’re now standing on what’s left of fire tower road. It doesn’t even rate as a hiking trail. But in just a few steps forward you’ll begin to see the way. Expect to meander around lots of deadfall. You’ll have 2.8 miles of a steady climb to reach the top.
As you gain higher elevation the tall grass and deadfall gives way to hard ground and the road is more apparent. You’ll walk past heaps of large erratic boulders with twisted live oaks growing between them. When you come across rusted remains of drainage pipes that’s a sign you’re heading in the right direction.
You’re socked in the higher you climb by the surrounding lush green wilderness of Dugger Mountain. The road doesn’t pass any vistas but I got a glimpse of the horizon from the top of a boulder field and was surprised by how high up I was. Down below I could see the city and farm lands of Piedmont, Alabama.
The last push to the top is a bit steep and spiraled. I hope you’re wearing long pants because the road turns into a bed of poison ivy. On top is a flat spot where the fire tower once stood leaving a few remains to inspect. Note to self: This would make an ideal camping spot.
Walking down fire tower road is just as tingling as coming up but without all the effort and anxiety so you might want to stop and inspect the boulder fields you passed earlier. Take your time, I promise you won’t be disturbed.
– Steve Tanner