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Tennessee

The Walls of Jericho




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

Hiking, Horse Riding, Creek Walking, Camping View All

Plan Your Visit

Plan on a minimum of six hours for the strenuous hike into and out of the gorge. View All

Get Directions

Contact information
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) now manages the site.  If you have any questions about access to this property please call (931) 968-6215  or toll-free (in state) 1-800-624-7406.

Trail Map
Here is a GPS map for the Walls of Jericho trails (Tennessee and Alabama trailheads), provided by Nashville Hiking Meetup and Backpacker magazine.

The Walls of Jericho Are Now Open to the Public
In Alabama: Alabama’s Forever Wild Program purchased the 12,500-acre Alabama section of the property from The Nature Conservancy. It is now known as the Skyline Wildlife Management Area and is open for public access. The protected area encompasses the headwaters of the globally significant Paint Rock River.

In Tennessee: In 2006, The Nature Conservancy also transferred the 8,900-acre Tennessee tract to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to be the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The State Natural Areas Program of the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation co-manages 750 acres of the Walls of Jericho and its surrounding creek basin within the Bear Hollow Wildlife Management Area. The Walls of Jericho site is designated as a Tennessee State Natural Area. The entire 8,900-acre area is open for public access.

Historical Background
The Walls of Jericho area was originally owned by the Texas oil magnate Harry Lee Carter, who acquired 60,000 acres in Franklin County, Tenn., and Jackson County, Ala., in the 1940s.

For years, up until 1977 when the Walls of Jericho were closed to the public, the Tennessee property had been open to the public for recreational use and managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Now this special place is once again open to the public.

The Carter Lands region lies in the heart of the Southern Cumberlands and totals 60,000 acres.

Transaction Details
Buyer: The Nature Conservancy
Seller: Stevenson Land Company

Total tract size: 21,453 acres bordering the state line between Alabama and Tennessee

  • 12,510 acres in Alabama
  • 8,943 acres in Tennessee

The Walls of Jericho tract links large, protected, intact forestlands within the Southern Cumberlands, for a total of more than 50,000 acres of protected lands.

Nearby protected areas include:

  • Franklin State Forest
  • Carter Caves State Natural Area
  • University of the South at Sewanee
  • The Nature Conservancy’s David Carter tract
  • Skyline Wildlife Management Area

This project protects the headwaters of the Paint Rock River.

Work on this property is a joint effort between the Tennessee and Alabama chapters of The Nature Conservancy and the Alabama
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Project Costs
Total project costs: $13,944,168

  • $735* per acre in Alabama
  • $530* per acre in Tennessee

*Prices are based on timber values.

Southern Cumberlands and the Paint Rock River
Located in Franklin County, Tenn., and Jackson County, Ala.

Jackson County, Ala., has the highest concentration of caves of any county in the United States.

This area is the epicenter of the rare Tennessee cave salamander.

The upper Paint Rock River watershed, including the Walls of Jericho area, is one of the few intact large functional landscapes remaining in the Southeast.

The Paint Rock River is home to 100 species of fish and about 45 mussel species:

  • Five globally imperiled mussels and 12 globally rare mussels are found in the Paint Rock River and its tributaries.
  • Two of the mussel species (pale lilliput and Alabama lampshell) are found nowhere else in the world, and one fish species (palezone shiner) is confined to the Paint Rock River and one stream in Kentucky.
  • Three globally imperiled fish (sawfin shiner, blotchside logperch and snail darter) occur in the Paint Rock River.
  • The area provides important habitat for migratory songbirds, such as the cerulean warbler, and for non-migratory birds, such as ruffed grouse.

Related Program and Project Descriptions
The Conservancy’s Southern Cumberlands Project area encompasses approximately 1 million acres in the southern region of the Cumberland Plateau.

The Conservancy’s Tennessee and Alabama chapters have been beneficiaries of a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) to work on the Cumberland Plateau. The multi-year initiative has focused on conserving natural areas, protecting working landscapes and strengthening efforts already under way in the region. The Greater Southern Appalachian region, a "hot spot" of biodiversity in the United States, is the fifth site in DDCF’s $25 million national forest conservation initiative. (First phase of grant was awarded 2001.)

The Lyndhurst Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn., has also provided financial support for this project.

There are hiking trails and horse trails. Both lead into the gorge. A tent-only, primitive camping area is available at the bottom of the gorge not far from the Walls of Jericho natural amphitheater.

The hike is about 3.5 miles in length, one way, 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 visitors 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 hours to make the round trip, which includes a two-hour stay in the gorge.

Directions

From Nashville take I-24 east toward Chattanooga. Take exit 127 on Highway 64 and turn toward Winchester. Stay on Highway 64 for about 19 miles and turn south on Highway 16. Just after crossing into Alabama, look on the right for a gravel parking area with a yellow gate and an information kiosk. Park there and follow directions on the map at the trailhead. This is the Alabama trailhead, and it affords the shortest route into the Walls of Jericho. There is also a Tennessee trailhead. View our GPS map on the main Walls of Jericho page to find its location.

Discussion

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