Walls of Jericho

Date: May 20, 2006
Location: Jackson County, Alabama
Trail: Walls of Jericho
Members: Mike Hank Henshaw, Larry Barkey, Mimi Barkey, Joy Corsbie, Norma Elliott,
   Steve Elliott, Foster Pilgrim Parsons, Bart Seymour, Gary Whiteman White

Guests: Sara Hodge

The Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club ventured out to Jackson County in northeastern Alabama on Saturday, May 20, 2006 to visit the Walls of Jericho and hike the canyon in between.

This is one of those Nature-Conservancy-preserved-area-turned-over-to-regional-agency maneuvers that the Conservancy actually does quite well. In this case, both the states of Alabama and Tennessee have a piece of the territory. Yet if you read the Alabama web site, Tennessee is never mentioned and vice versa. And each state is developing its own trailheads. You'd think these guys could work together maybe a little; it's not like this is the Tide vs. the Vols or something.

Fortunately the political posturing in no way diminishes the natural experience. This site comes as a highly recommended day hike location for almost anyone. Indeed, the parking lot was nearly full when we arrived at 8:30.
Logistically, most of the participants just got up early and drove over, about two and a half hours from Double Springs. Some of the group camped the night before at a campsite that is located at a separate trailhead for horseback riding. This was apparently all right though someone remarked that if one were able to choose one's neighbors at a campsite, horses would not be the first choice.

The three and a half mile well-worn trail starts by meandering downhill through deciduous forest, basically connnecting with and then following Turkey Creek. The creek can be crossed via a primitive bridge or easily forded when the water is no more than ankle-deep as it was in May.
Then the trail leads uphill into a limestone canyon, the "Walls". At the end, the path widens into a bowl-like area, appropriately known as "the Amphitheater". In this area, one can climb on the rocks, splash in the flowing water, or just admire the waterfalls and the scenery in general.
Undoubtedly due to the popularity of the place, we encountered little in the way of wildlife. Yet we did spot this Red Eft (immature terrestial form of the Eastern Newt) and found a quite dead Timber Ratttler on the return trip. A family of Scarlet Tanagers brightened up an otherwise bleak birding day.

What we lacked in fauna, we made up in flora. The northeastern part of the state is definitely different than the northwest where we usually hang out. The pictured plant is the Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica.
The web pages for this trail describe it as "strenuous". I think I'd go with "easy to moderate" with the following disclaimer. The night before our hike, there had been a fairly heavy rain storm. We encountered difficulty with mud while climbing up into the end of the canyon. But by the time we were returning, this had dried enough that no one (well, almost no one) had any trouble.

All in all, a very good day. Hiking the Walls of Jericho comes highly recommended.

Submitted 15 September 2006
Text, photo of Mike below: Larry Barkey
Group shot: some kind passerby who appeared to know how to use a camera
All other photography: Mike Henshaw

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