Dugger Mountain Wilderness
The Dugger Mountain Wilderness is one of the newest wilderness areas in the US. It was designated a wilderness by an act of congress last year. Wilderness designation provides the ultimate protection for land, no roads or other development other than trails are allowed on wilderness land. The fight to become a wilderness requires an act of congress and takes quite a long time, Francine Hutchinson, Bruce Hutchinson, and Pete Conroy where a few of the local advocates who made this wilderness a reality. Dugger Mountain is located between Anniston and Piedmont, to the west of highway 9 and to the north of Rabbit Town Road. It is accessible from Rabbit Town Road and FR500. The wilderness area is relatively small at 9200 acres, but it does have some interesting features (cliffs, caves, springs, etc).
I've hiked wilderness areas across the US, and find them to be pretty much the ideal place for backpacking. The people who use them tend to be other hikers and backpackers (because the only way you can get in is on foot - or horse in some cases). Even areas just a few miles form crowded national parks or interstates can be quiet with relatively few visitors.
Dugger Mountain currently only has the Pinhoti as an official trail. However, there are a few other former roads that allow for some smaller loops into to the wilderness. I'm including here a scan of a small map with the Pinhoti and these other areas on it. The Pinhoti in the wilderness is of course covered in my Pinhoti Guide, insection 2. You will see there that I've been frustrated with the trail through the wilderness as it almost seems that it was laid out to miss all the interesting areas. I have not yet hiked the other roads. It appears as if the Forest Service will gradually add a few more trails in the wilderness, this time to the interesting areas. I voiced the opinion that this was the thing to do at a planning meeting a few weeks ago. Until then I'm planning on getting out and exploring the wilderness some more and will report on those explorations including maps.
Also attached to the wilderness is a historic cabin formerly belonging to Pinky Burns. The cabin is off of Rabbit Town road just a couple hundred yards before the Pinhoti crossing. The cabin is on public property and you are allowed to park there and look at the place, just be careful and don't do any damage. The cabin is currently under study for renovation to make it structurally sound and designation as a historic site. There are plans to develop a Pinhoti Trailhead at the cabin and one of the roads leading back into the wilderness goes behind it.
For the time being I'm including a scanned preliminary map of the area that the forest service gave out at the last meeting. The text to accompany the map is below. I'm also trying to find someone to write a few paragraphs on Pinky Burns so that those of us who didn't know him will understand the significance of the cabin.
Michael and Ember's report in Dugger Mountain including photos (November 2000).
Dugger Mountain Preliminary Map
Wade's Farm - site of the Dugger Mountain Wilderness Dedication, April 1, 2000
Forest Road 500 - forms the eastern boundary of the wilderness from Vigo south the Grantley (Cleburne Co. Rd. 55)
Tower Road - hike 2.8 miles of this old road to the pinnacle of Dugger Mountain and the old fire tower. Located approximately 2 miles south of Vigo, off of Forest Road 500
Forest Road 500-K - drive 4 miles to two vistas and view into the heart of the wilderness. Located off of Forest Road 500 1.5 miles north of Grantley.
Pinky's Cabin - future site of a trailhead for the wilderness and Pinhoti Trail. Located approximately 5 miles east of the Highway 9/Co. Rd. 55 intersection.
Jones Brance Road - walk the road into the wilderness and double back on the Pinhoti Trail for a 6.5 mile hike. Located just west of Pinky's Cabin.
King's Gap Road - forms the western edge of the wilderness, use of a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Located approximately 4 miles east of Highway 9/Co. Rd. 55 intersection.
Dugger Mountain Wilderness Links
The History of Dugger Mountain Wilderness, from JSU's EPIC. ****
An article on Dugger Mountain by Nat Andrews. ***
National Wilderness Preservation System Page. **
Anniston Star Article. **
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