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  • Writer's pictureBrandi & Candace

Walls of Jericho

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

On the Tennessee-Alabama border, is a Wildlife Management Area named the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Bear Hollow Mountain is over 21,000 acres. Within this area is a 750 natural area named the Walls of Jericho. It’s about an hour and forty five minute drive from Nashville. The Walls itself is referred to often as “The Grand Canyon of the South,” because when you hike to the Walls of Jericho, you find yourself in a 150 foot wide bowl surrounded by 200 foot tall walls. A traveling minister found it in the late 1880s and named it, and it sat on private property until recently. It was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2003, and then sold to Alabama’s Forever Wild Program. Alabama spent $9.3million for its portion of the land, and Tennessee spend $5.9million for its portion. The waterfalls form Paint Rock River, and the walls are surrounded by forestry. The forestry itself has at least 15 federally endangered or threatened species. The Walls of Jericho opened officially August 27th, 2004. There is a horseback riding trail, and two openings to the hiking trail- one on the Tennessee side, and one on the Alabama side.

Ya’ll. This is a hard hike. Even though I hike sporadically, I was not prepared. We drove an hour and forty five minutes from Nashvillle, and arrived. The parking lot had portapotties. There was no cellular service. We began the hike, which is quoted in different places as 6, 7, and 8 miles. There are paper maps in a box at the head of the trail, but they aren’t well done or easily readable. As you hike, the path is marked with red marks on trees. However, the hiking trail intersects with the horseback riding trail and forks off to the other states’ entrance, and it isn’t well marked at all. The hike down into the forest to the canyon took my party about 2 hours, and was super easy as it was literally all downhill, with spots of rugged terrain. The hike back up took us close to 4 hours, and was decidedly difficult. Now, some hikes I’ve done have been steadily uphill. However, hiking back from the Walls of Jericho was a steep heavy incline for a few feet, followed by a segment of flatland, and it alternated back and forth. Since you’re in a valley, the sun sets very early. For us, we began the hike at noon, the sun began to set at 5:15, and we arrived back at the car at 5:45.

The scenes surrounding you are beautiful. There are sparse benches, and even an old cemetery. I wish there was more to tell us about the history of the place or the family who’d previously owned it- even on the back of the takeaway maps. Bring water and a backpack of granola. I wouldn’t imagine doing this in the dead of summer, so January was perfect, temperature-wise. Go challenge yourself and do this hike.. and prepare to be sore for two days afterward; it’s absolutely worth it.

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