I had heard lots of stories about how beautiful the Walls of Jericho is, but I had never been there. Well let me just tell you, words cannot do justice to this incredible natural area, you just have to see it for yourself, so I placed a cache here to give you an added incentive.
In the late 1700s, Davy Crockett first explored the area since his family owned this land. In the lates 1800's a traveling minister came upon the Walls of Jericho and was so captivated by the cathedral-like beauty that he declared it needed a biblical name and the name stuck. You can travel to the bottom of its 50-yard-wide limestone bowl and look up at 200-foot-tall cliffs on each side. In a heavy rain, water shoots out of holes and cracks in the rock, but I sure would not want to be here during heavy rain. Make sure you go all the way to the end of the trail and check out the "cathedral" from both ends. While standing in the bowl you will see a stream coming out of a cave and cascading down to a small waterfall. If you will do a little climbing and proceed on up the canyon you will find where that water is coming from. There is a waterfall that comes over the rim and drops fifty feet or so into a beautiful little grotto, which is where Scoot and I had our lunch.
Of course the cache is hidden downstream in a spot that should keep it safe from prying eyes and rising waters. GPS reception at the bottom of the gorge is spotty at best, so I took an extra long time averaging the coordinates, then hiking out aways and back to recheck them. After my gps settled down the coords were pretty close to dead on, but it took it a while to settle down, when I first walked up to the big rock the cache is under my gps said I was 43 feet away, but as I stood there it took it less than a minute to come down to less than ten feet. I am sorry, but I think this is as good as it gets under tree cover at the bottom of a narrow canyon. Just be patient and the coords will settle in. That was the bad news, now here is the good news, I am going to do my best to tell you where to look. If you make the walk, I want you to find the cache, the beauty of the area is the true reward for this smiley. I rated it a 3.5 difficulty based on the poor signal reception and the fact that the cache is not in plain sight. The cache is on the northeast side of the stream, below the bowl, just above the last big fall line. It is about thirty feet uphill from the stream under the highest of three boulders that are piled together. The cache is a clear lock-n-lock container under a couple of rocks. This picture should show you where to go in, just above the log.
This area is managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and is open to the public. In addition to the hiking trails, there is a horse trail that leads to the point where Turkey Creek and Hurricane Creek meet, at that point you have to leave the horses and hike the last mile into the canyon, but I am sure that it would be a nice ride. While hiking you will cross the horse trail a couple of times. At the meeting of the creeks there is a meadow that is open for tent camping if you decide to make this an overnight adventure. The meadow is adjacent to Clarke Cemetery and is sort of the hub of the trails, in that all of the different routes leading to the Walls of Jericho terminate here and join into a single trail that leads up the canyon. Speaking of trail choices, if you hike in from the trailhead coordinates I am posting you will only have one decision to make on the way in. There is a fork in the trail with a sign that points to the footbridge on the right fork. The path to the footbridge is longer, but will lead you to an easy crossing on a really neat log bridge across hurricane creek. If you take the left fork it is a fairly short walk down to the creek, but then you have to wade across, when we were there it was less than knee deep, but I am sure it would be impassable after a heavy rain. The kicker is that if you take the footbridge path, you will still have to cross Turkey Creek, but it is more of a rock hopping exercise than a wade. We opted to wade the creek on the way in and to use the footbridge on the way out. Check out these shots that will give you a feel of what you are in for on the trails.
The hike is about 7 miles in length, roundtrip, and is downhill most of the route into the gorge. That, of course, means the walk back will be mostly uphill. It is a strenuous hike, so you should wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of water and snacks. The trail is well marked but often is muddy for days after a rain shower. Several streams have to be crossed, so plan on getting wet. Be advised that stream levels rise quickly during thunderstorms and crossing them can be hazardous in swift water. Plan on a minimum of six to seven hours to make the round trip, which includes a two-hour stay in the gorge. If you want an idea of what kind of elevation change I am talking about just check out this profile. This is from our gps track going in taking the left fork and wading and coming out over the footbridge.
Just a couple of more quick notes, the trailhead and parking for hikers are actually in Alabama about a mile south of the border at N 34 58.620 W 86 04.820, parking for horse trailers is about a mile further south. There is plenty of parking available at the trailhead. There was something cool about hiking from one state to another, I know that it is no big deal but I thought it was cool. While driving in from Tennessee we passed a new TWRA Walls of Jericho Trailhead on the Tennessee side of the border, but I did not have a trail map for that one so we went with what we knew, the next time I am down I will try that trail and let you know if it is finished. Be sure to take your time and look around while you are hiking in and out. There are all kind of cool things along the trail including a very cool hollow log stream crossing, several caves and all kinds of wildlife. I was amazed at how quickly the environment changed from old growth forest, to underbrush to karst to boulder fields to stream and meadow and back again. Although I was dog tired at the end of the day, the views are well worth the hike, I hope you enjoy the Walls of Jericho as much as I did, I look forward to seeing you on the trails.