Estillfork, Alabama

Hike the Walls of Jericho

7 Miles Total - 1200 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by John Morgan Harrison

The Walls of Jericho is a strange place. The short descent into the valley switchbacks between huge moss covered boulders and along Turkey Creek as the walls of the canyon become increasingly narrow, ending in a beautiful waterfall that pours into an underground cavern.

Around 5pm, we hiked down the only clearly marked trail that departs from the parking lot. The path begins with gentle switchbacks and great views of the forest, occasionally passing by small waterfalls, sinkholes, and caves; and arriving at the Hurricane Creek crossing (log with handrail) after about 2 miles. After the crossing, the terrain levels out, following Turkey Creek for 1.5 miles as the trail passes multiple clearings and established fire pits that are great for group camping near the Walls. However, with the sun quickly sinking below the tree line, we pressed on toward the sound of rushing water. You know you're close when the walls are about 50 yards apart on either side of the creek, and you see a bend toward the right in the canyon ahead. We carefully crossed the creek in the wide, shallow area just downstream from the large pool, and skirted our way around the apex of the canyons bend. The rocks are extremely slippery here and sloped downward, but we moved very slowly and were able to make it at dusk with full packs. We set up our tent on the large curved rock ledge that is overhung in a semi circle by the wall itself. There is room here for up to a large two person backpacking tent if the weather has been wet, but not much more unless all the puddles are dried up. 

The canyon is divided into "steps" that continue upstream from the "main bowl" where we camped. Each step is no more than 5 feet high, and a manageable scramble. The first step up from the bowl is relatively small, but the second step up provides a view to the end of the canyon, where Turkey Creek is initially fed by a 30 foot waterfall. We walked to the end and climbed down the rocks to stand on the gravel shore of the small pool the waterfall fills. The water is not safe to swim here, because the pool constantly drains with significant current into an underground cave that flows underneath the first and second steps, rushing out of the cave's mouth to form the wide shallow waterfall that covers half of the bowl down below. The water is strikingly green and blue where it pools, and we spent the whole second day exploring the canyon and wading down the creek. The next morning we woke up and packed up for the hike out. The route is out and back, and with a pack the exit trip is strenuous, climbing 1200 feet in only 3.5 miles. It had rained recently so the mud was extremely slippery so trekking poles and hiking sticks came in handy. It took us about 2 hours from when we left camp to reaching the parking lot.

Over the course of our stay we saw only one other person while we were breaking camp. The bizarre look of the Walls of Jericho, as well as the uncontaminated silence make it a true hidden gem.  

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Overall rating: 

Unique landscape, tough hike

This is a great hike on the Alabama/Tennessee border. The first half of the hike is all down-hill and can be tough on the knees. The forest is very scenic, with some cool boulders and log-bridges featuring this section of the hike. Once you get close to the Walls of Jericho, you will notice a nice campsite next to a cemetery (a little creepy) and then more campsites a further 0.2 miles down. From the last group of campsites, the Walls are about another quarter-mile down the trail and will require a river crossing. Make sure you have good water-proof boots with traction on them for this. Once you are at the walls, you will notice some incredibly unique rock formations surrounding you. The walls to your right arc overhead, reminiscent of 'The Subway' in Zion National Park. Getting up to the main waterfall requires a bit of rock scrambling, so be mindful of your abilities here. When I went, water levels were not high enough to make the waterfall flow despite a lot of rain the week leading up to my visit. If you want to get a chance to see these falls, you should check on weather and water levels before you visit. Definitely would recommend and I will probably go again.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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