Discover the 20 Most Dangerous Places in Alabama
Whether it’s barbecue, college football, or classic literature — such as To Kill a Mockingbird — Alabama does it better than any other state in the U.S. This southern state embraces its vibrant history and culture and is proud of its native natural beauty.
On the other hand, no state is perfect. That is to say, some places are less than utopian. In this article, you’ll discover the 20 most dangerous places in Alabama, where they are, and what makes them so dangerous.
Alabama’s Most Dangerous Towns and Cities
As in every other state in the country, some places are more dangerous than others. This is due to many factors. For instance, poverty rates, population, and violent crimes all play a part in determining which cities or towns are more dangerous than others.
Likewise, poor infrastructure and natural hazards also contribute to a place’s danger level. We’ve searched the FBI database for crime statistics in Alabama’s cities. Read on to discover which cities and towns in Alabama are the most dangerous places in the state.
Underneath the southern charm of Anniston, you’ll find both good and not-so-good layers. The city has lovely lush green areas, historical buildings and sites, and fascinating museums. On the other hand, Anniston also has its share of violence.
The city of Anniston has been rated as one of the worst places in Alabama to live. With a population of almost 21,000, the violent crime rate is 68% higher than the country’s average. Specifically, the rate is 2,993 out of every 100,000 people. So you have a 1 in 10 chance of becoming a violent crime victim if you visit or live in or visit this city.
Alabama’s Fairfield is a relatively small city. Its 2023 population of 9,552 has steadily declined since the 1960 peak of 15,800. The property and violent crime rates are partly behind why the city was voted the 34th worst place to live in the country.
The number of reported crimes in 2023 was over 1,900. In a population as small as Fairfield’s, that’s significant. While people feel relatively safe being out and about in the daytime, nighttime activities are a bit riskier.
The city of Bessemer is situated in the hub of central Alabama. Its 2022 population of just over 25,000 has declined since its 1990 peak of over 33,000. While the crime rate has declined in the past several years, there is still a 4,500 per 100,000 resident occurrence. This may be part of the reason for the city’s declining population.
With a population of 192,600, Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. In 1960, this city had a population of about 341,000, which has steadily dropped. With 4,025 violent crimes, 13,295 property crimes, and 145 arsons, according to the last FBI Alabama crime report, Birmingham is a dangerous place to live.
The city of Prichard was ranked as the 12th worst place in the country to live in recent years. The violent crime rate is 1,217 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the property crime rate is 4,302 per 100,000. When rated on a livability scale, Prichard received grades of F in health, safety, and crime.
Lanett’s population rose steadily from the early 1900s to about 1960 when it declined again. It rose to its 1990 peak of 9,000, dropped, and then rose briefly in 2019. It began to drop off again to its 2023 population of 6,660. Those early fluctuations may be due to changes in the cotton industry, violence rates, and employment.
What may have caused the population to decline again in the past few years? Gang violence has declined in the past few years due to a concerted effort by local law enforcement. Yet, in spite of the decrease in gang violence, the overall rate of violent crime has increased. With 88 violent crimes, most were rapes and aggravated assaults. Additionally, the city had 492 property crimes.
Unfortunately, Selma has suffered from a sad history. Three important Civil Rights marches began in Selma back in 1965, ending with white attacks on those marchers. The violent beatings and deaths that accompanied the marches became etched into the city’s history.
Lamentably, violence is still rife in the city of Selma. Though the gang wars that inundated the city in the early 2000s have dropped, the city’s almost 17,000 people still experience violent crimes. There are 13.7 violent crimes per 1,000 people and about 105 property crimes per 1,000.
Gadsden, AL, has a population of just over 33,000. It also has stunning mountain scenery, historic sites, and — sadly — violence. For every 100,000 people, there are 1,000 violent crimes. Property crimes occur at an astounding incidence of 7,000 per 100,000 people.
Tarrant is a small city with a population of about 5,800. With a crime rate of about 9,025 per 100,000 people, that’s significant. However, not all of those crimes are violent. Although nearly 1,300 per 100,000 are assaults and 16.4 are rapes, the rest are property crimes. The town is also known for having a large population of pickpockets and panhandlers.
With a poverty rate of 89% higher than the rest of the country and a higher crime rate, Troy is the tenth most dangerous city in Alabama. The incidence of violent crime — which has decreased in the past few years — is 445 per 100,000. On the other hand, the property crime rate has risen to 2,105 per 100,000 residents.
Alabama’s Most Dangerous Places in Nature
Alabama’s hazards aren’t limited to residential areas. There are plenty of natural dangers of which to be aware as well. In this section, we’ll delve into the natural places in Alabama that are the most dangerous to visit.
11. Cathedral Caverns
This enormous cave, located in Woodville, AL, has been called one of the riskiest in the country to explore. The entrance to Cathedral Caverns measures 128 feet wide and 25 feet high. Inside, for those who dare to explore, a giant stalagmite called Goliath rises 45 feet from the cavern floor.
The sheer size of this colossal cavern is frightening. The otherworldly appearance of its giant stalagmites and stalactites adds yet another intimidating factor. Nevertheless, if you do decide to brave the cave, don’t forget to wear a hard helmet.
12. Cheaha Mountain
Mount Cheaha, or more commonly Cheaha Mountain, is Alabama’s highest natural point. The name is derived from the Creek Indian name for high place — “Chaha.” The height alone can become a hazard for climbers, especially when making the steep descent back down.
Timber rattlesnakes along the trail create yet another danger. A timber rattlesnake’s venom is powerful stuff, so it’s best to be watchful when climbing Cheaha Mountain. In addition to rattlesnakes, coyotes and bears call this mountain area home, so be prepared before embarking on a Cheaha Mountain hike.
13. Sipsey Wilderness
With 45 miles of hiking trails that wind through dazzling natural scenery, Sipsey Wilderness is a perfect place to hike. Well, maybe it’s not perfect. Actually, hikers get lost in this expanse of wilderness several times each year. Some of those events have caused search and rescue responders to work for days to find them.
Not only is there a danger of getting lost, but the sandstone cliffs often become slippery and can cause slips, injuries, and potentially deaths. If you plan to visit Sipsey Wilderness to take in the pristine beauty, it’s best to be prepared. With little signage, you may want to bring a GPS device.
14. Walls of Jericho Trail
Despite the beauty of this nature trail, there are several inherent dangers when hiking the Walls of Jericho Trail. First, the 3.5-mile-long trail plummets about 900 feet down where rock formations — the Walls of Jericho — and waterfalls are below. Not only that, but the trail itself is naturally challenging, being poorly blazed.
Additionally, the hike can dehydrate you, so it’s essential to have plenty of water available. Some areas are slippery, so proper hiking clothing and equipment are also crucial. However, people who have hiked this trail describe it as harsh and challenging but worth the effort.
15. Gulf Shores Beach
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, AL is a gorgeous resort town with striking scenery and turquoise waters. Unfortunately, all that beauty comes with a price. First off, the city is an extreme flood-threat area. Along with the threat of flooding, the site is infamous for shark sightings and hurricanes.
With that in mind, you may consider visiting during the wintertime. Hurricane season usually lasts from early June to November. Therefore, by the winter, the season is basically over. Also, sharks are very temperature sensitive, so the water will hopefully be too chilly for them by mid-winter.
16. Neversink Pit
The sinkhole — a cross between a cave and a limestone-walled sinkhole — is truly a natural wonder. At its opening, the pit measures 40 feet wide. The hole is 162 feet deep and drops to a floor twice as wide as the opening at the top.
Once you descend, you see the lush ferns growing along the walls and the number of spectacular underground waterfalls. While the view seems worth it, the adventure isn’t for everyone. Due to the vertical climbing skills involved, anyone who wants to explore the Neversink Pit needs a permit.
17. Coosa River
The last of this article’s natural dangers, the Coosa River, flows through Alabama before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. One of its most significant dangers is the almost one million pounds of chemical waste a poultry company dumps into the waters yearly.
The water is also popular for various water sports. However, if you plan to go whitewater rafting or kayaking in the Coosa anytime soon, it’s important to be prepared for the wild rapids. If you’re an experienced rafter or kayaking, you may want to give this — one of Alabama’s most dangerous rivers — a try.
Additional Dangerous Places in Alabama
Some of the dangerous areas in the state are human-made elements. Roads, towns, cities, and other human features can become hazardous to the very people who incorporated them. Read below for three more Alabama places where you should use extreme caution.
18. Highway 431
Route 431 is considered the most dangerous highway in Alabama. Many people call this north-south state highway the highway to hell. Visibility along a large portion of the highway is poor. Along with that, the highway’s two lanes suddenly change to four and then back at critical points along the road.
Besides being a heavy-traffic road, Highway 431 has numerous curves, hills that are steep, and narrow bridges along the lengthy stretch of highway going through most of Alabama’s north-to-south span. There is also a constant stream of cars coming onto and leaving the highway in large numbers. Finally, the highway passes through several towns where drivers suddenly need to stop or slow down.
19. Birmingham to Hoover Metro Area (for Pedestrians)
Overall, Alabama is ranked as the second-most dangerous place for pedestrians. Furthermore, the Birmingham-Hoover Metro area is the 6th of the 51 largest U.S. metro areas in which to walk. This is due to the rising number of pedestrian deaths in that area.
Between 2003 and 2012, there were 148 fatalities involving pedestrians. Unfortunately, the problem is only growing for the Birmingham-Hoover metro area, as well as for the state of Alabama and the United States as a whole. Since people started walking more during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pedestrian deaths has risen in relation to those numbers.
20. Mobile County During a Tornado
From 1950 until 2022, Mobile County has had 110 tornadoes. Alabama, as a state, has had almost 2,800 tornadoes during that same period. April is the peak of tornado season in Alabama, with over 550 of those 1950-to-2022-period twisters occurring during that month.
In 2022, the Alabama Tornado Database showed eleven tornado events in Mobile County, including watches, warnings, and sightings. One of the reasons that this county has more than its share of tornadoes is that it’s close to both the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile River. Being surrounded by numerous large water bodies makes Mobile ideal for tornadoes.
Summary Table of Most Dangerous Places in Alabama
|Rank||Dangerous Place||Type of Danger|
|12.||Gulf Shore Coast||Beach and water|
|14.||Neversink Pit||Cross between a cave and a sinkhole|
|15.||Sipsey Wilderness Trail||Hiking Trail|
|16.||Walls of Jericho Trail||Hiking trail|
|18.||Highway 431||Stretch of highway|
|19.||Birmingham-Hoover Metro Area||Pedestrian dangers|