Across the country, and probably most of the western world, if you mention the Walls of Jericho two images probably come to mind. One is the ancient city of Jericho whose walls fell in dramatic fashion after the Israelites blew their horns. Secondly, some may think of the WWE Superstar Chris Jericho’s devastating finishing move which is aptly named “The Walls of Jericho” which is of course just the Boston Crab. But there is a third image that comes to mind for a few experienced hikers in Northern Alabama and that is the image of towering limestone walls and beautiful waterfalls.
In my former life as a traveling sandpaper salesman I used to drive all around the Southeast and it wasn’t that uncommon for me to get lost or end up in someplace I shouldn’t be. But none was more strange than my first time driving west on US 72 where just outside of Scottsboro Alabama I saw a sign for the Walls of Jericho. For a moment I thought I may have traveled through a time vortex and was transported to ancient Israel but that theory was quickly dismissed when logic prevailed because ancient Israel probably didn’t have Jet Pep gas stations nor did they have metal road signs. This sparked my curiosity and I knew I needed to do some research and come back and check out the Walls (no horns allowed).
The Walls of Jericho is part of the Alabama’s Forever Wild program and was opened to the public in 2004. The fact that such an amazing place was not available to the masses until recently speaks volumes about what the program is doing and makes me proud the electorates chose to keep the program going during this most recent election.
The trailhead is just off AL Hwy 79 a few miles north of Hytop, Alabama and is clearly marked from the road. There is a large gravel parking lot with plenty of room for cars, trucks, SUVs, and time machines. The city of Hytop has a few gas stations that you can go to for any provision and snacks you may want for the hike.
This isn’t your typical hike where you start at the base of a hill or mountain and climb to the top then climb back down. At the Walls you start at the top climb down four miles then when it’s all done you get to do the hard part and climb four miles back up. The trail itself is well marked and wide with no major inclines or declines, just a lot of switch backs. When you reach the bottom of the canyon you still have a bit to go before you reach the walls. You must cross two wooden bridges, which consist of a fallen tree with a hand rail, and go past one creepy cemetery. This is where the trail narrows and is single file until you get to the walls.
At the Walls
The limestone walls start to tower above as you reach the end of the trail and you see a beautiful waterfall. It takes some sure-footedness to get across the rocks at the end but once you’re across you have a beautiful view from the top of the first falls and the pool below it. On a warm enough summer day you might even venture to swim in it. The first waterfall is fed by a wider cascading falls that originates from a small cave. As you climb and explore further into the canyon the walls narrow and you come to a pit with a 25 foot waterfall shooting into it and through a cave at its base. The water travels through the cave and is what feeds the waterfalls mentioned earlier. I have included three pictures of the main falls to illustrate the different levels of ferocity based on water levels and time of year. I would love to explore above and beyond this point but without proper climbing gear and relevant experience it is nearly impossible.
Overall the Walls of Jericho is one of the gems of Northern Alabama and one of many great hikes and adventures to be found in Jackson County Alabama just be sure to keep your horns at home because we don’t want these walls to come tumbling down anytime soon.