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Walls of Jericho - Alabama, United States

by latitude11  
with a Garmin Forerunner 305
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What is the Walls of Jericho?

The Walls of Jericho is a 750-acre natural area that is within the 8,943-acre Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which is contiguous to the Skyline WMA in Alabama. The “Walls” is an impressive geological feature that forms a large bowl shaped amphitheater. Embedded in the limestone are bowling ball size holes from which water drips and spouts, creating a unique water feature. This amphitheater gives rise to steep 200-foot sheer rock walls that creates the natural feature defining the amphitheater. Turkey Creek drains through the “Walls” and has been an active geological force in creating the amphitheater. (from here)

It looks like this:

What you need to know:

This is a strenuous hike. I read this review before making the decision to join the Middle Tennessee Hiking Meetup Group for this New Years Resolution hike and felt somewhat confident that I could do it. I was only partly right. I did finish the hike, but it is certainly challenging in places. Read the reviews. Believe what people say about these things:
  • It's muddy. It had rained briefly on the morning of the hike and that brief rain was enough to turn the trail into a giant, slippery, slick mess for the last mile of so. The closer you get to the Creek, the muddier it gets. Be sure that you have on sturdy shoes and prepare to slip & slide. 
  • Dress appropriately. I was so hot (it was an unusually warm day - 50+ degrees) and so I was very sweaty by the time we reached the Creek crossings and the Walls. I wore just my tshirt on the way back up, but my sweaty, damp clothes made the breezes pretty chilly. Though I admit, it felt really good. I can't imagine doing this trail in the height of the summer when it's hot and humid. 
  • Wear waterproof boots. There are creek crossings. Three of them. Two of them entail crossing via a footbridge and one of them does not. The last one, you actually cross the creek in two parts and even on this day the water was too deep in places to step into in waterproof boots. In the wet season, other folks said, crossing here is really difficult without getting your feet wet. 
  • The hike back up will be tough. It will be. We were impossibly slow coming back up because I was reaching my limit and took a quick break every couple of hundred feet. Others breezed right on by (somehow), and I admit I felt defeated. I consider myself to be in relatively decent shape. I walk fast. I'm always at the front of the pack and rarely 'crash & burn' on a hike or a run. But this hill? This elevation? For 2+ miles? It kicked my butt. It may not kick yours, but you will still feel the very long climb and just like me, you'll be grateful when it's over.

The elevation:

According to my GPS (everyone's in the group differed slightly), there was a 1000 ft elevation drop in the first 2.5 miles which coincides with the second Creek crossing/arrival at the cemetery. Also note the rolling up/down/up/down of the last mile or so. This part of the trail is entirely covered with slick, slippery mud. It took a while to traverse this section.

On the return journey back up the hill, you can see that you regain that 1000ft. Fun times. 

The Map:

Here's the map from my GPS - you can also download a large one here.

And here's a link to the best map I was able to find online:

Info from Alabama State Parks (from here):
  • Approximately 10 miles of trails have been built to provide access to the Walls of Jericho and its waterfalls. 
  • Getting started is easy.  It is a 2.5-mile hike one way, downhill to Clarke Cemetery, with an additional half mile remaining to travel into the Walls. That means the walk back will be mostly uphill and strenuous.  
  • The trail is well marked and hikers have to cross several shallow streams.  However, stream levels rise quickly during thunderstorms and crossing them can be hazardous due to swift currents. 
  • After a rain shower, the trail can be muddy for days. On dry days, hikers should plan on a minimum of six hours to make the round-trip, which includes a two-hour stay in the gorge.
  • A separate 8.3-mile-long horse trail leading into the gorge is also available. Primitive camping is allowed in designated areas, including the parking area for the horse trail.

Driving Directions:

The Walls of Jericho is located in Jackson County about 25 miles northwest of Scottsboro off of Highway 79.

  • From Huntsville, Ala., go North on Highway 72. Take a left on Highway 79 to the Skyline/Hytop community. The Walls of Jericho tract is just north of Hytop; Highway 79 goes through the tract.
  • From Nashville, Tenn., take I-24 east toward Chattanooga. Take Exit 127 on Highway 64 and turn toward Winchester. Stay on Highway 64 for about 15 miles and turn south on Highway 16. Just after crossing into Alabama, look on the right for a gravel parking area with a yellow gate and an information kiosk. Park there and follow directions on the map at the trailhead.
Photos: See all pictures and videos from Walls of Jericho
Comments (3)
I was here in the 1970's before it was known. I camped out wit people that came in using 4x4 trucks.

This is one one the most unusual and awe-inspiring places to visit.
by drhmoss on Sep 10, 2014
Very nice info and photos. Need to check this one out.
by luv2hike on Jul 17, 2013
Excellent tips, and a very accurate description of the trail.
by happyfeet1980 on Jan 02, 2012
Trip Info
January 01, 2012
Trip Location: Jackson County, Alabama, United States
Length: 7.7 miles
Duration: 4 hours
Activity: Hiking
Trip viewed 20,586 times
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