- Not to be confused with the original Jericho.
The Walls of Jericho is a natural area straddling the Tennessee-Alabama state line.
The park preserves 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 (61 m) 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.
Legend claims that in the late 1700s Davy Crockett explored this area when his family owned land nearby. An itinerant preacher who made his way to the Walls of Jericho in the late 1800s performed baptisms here and gave it a biblical name. The Walls of Jericho area was originally owned by the Texas oil magnate Harry Lee Carter, who acquired 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) in Franklin County, TN and Jackson County, AL in the 1940s.
Flora and fauna
The natural area forest includes maples, oaks, hickories, tulip tree, American beech, eastern red cedar, and many other plants commonly associated with limestone. The forestland beyond the “Walls” feature is noteworthy with its many bluffs, large rock outcroppings, caves, and sinkholes. Not only is the “Walls” significant as a geological feature, the natural area is also important because of its biological richness. The Turkey Creek drainage, which bisects the natural area from north to south, supports the state endangered rare limerock arrowwood. Other rare species occur in the Turkey Creek watershed. The protection of Turkey Creek also helps protect downstream the Upper Paint Rock watershed where numerous rare mussel and fish species occur in the Paint Rock River.
The Walls of Jericho are located approximately an hour east of Huntsville, 1.5 hours west of Chattanooga, and about 2 hours southeast of Nashville. There are four access points to the park, two in either state. The two parking lots closest to the state line are for the hiking trail, while the two further out are for the horseback riding trail. This trail is more than twice as long and not as well marked as the hiking trail, so be sure to confirm you are heading out on the right trail.
Fees and permits
The hiking trail and campground are free of cost. Campfires are allowed with no permit, but must be extinguished before leaving.
The Walls of Jericho trail is regarded as a difficult hike, so wear good hiking boots, bring lots of water, and watch your footing on rocks.
The canyon and falls are absolutely spectacular and have to be seen to be believed. There is a cave about halfway to the walls on the Alabama side.
The hiking trail is about 3.5 miles long one way, while the horse trail is about 8.5 miles one way. It is quite a bit easier to hike down from the Tennessee trailhead vs the Alabama one. The distance hiked will be longer, but the vertical rise much more gradual. Either way this is a strenuous hike so come prepared.
There are two primitive campsites. One is slightly north of the hiking trail head in Alabama, while the other is halfway down the trail by the creek. Both campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and have space for 6-8 tents.
Bring a hiking stick, as there are lots of slippery rocks on the trail. You will have to cross several streams as well. Watch where you step, as venomous snakes such as the copperhead are known to live in the area.
Russell Cave National Monument is about an hour to the east, and preserves a cave used by Native Americans for several thousand years. Chattanooga has a vibrant downtown, the highlight being the world-class Tennessee Aquarium. Huntsville is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.