protected in 2004.
Walls of Jericho protected in 2004. © Byron Jorjorian

Places We Protect

The Walls of Jericho

Tennessee

Visit a forested canyon where Davy Crockett once hunted.

Located in Franklin County, Tennessee and in Jackson County, Alabama, The Walls of Jericho is comprised of large, intact and protected forestlands within the Southern Cumberland Mountains. Originally part of a larger property acquired by Texas oil magnate Harry Lee Carter in the 1940s, the Tennessee side of the property was managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for public recreation until a private timber firm closed the area in 1977.

In 2004, The Nature Conservancy took ownership and permanently reopened this 21,453-acre area that straddles the Alabama and Tennessee border. Soon after, Alabama’s Forever Wild Program purchased the 12,500-acre Alabama section of the property to expand the Skyline Wildlife Management Area, which is open for public access. Later, in 2006, TNC transferred the 8,943-acre Tennessee tract to TWRA, along with an additional 5,400 acres to the north, to establish the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

A large stick touches down into a creek.
Walls of Jericho This 21,453-acre natural area straddles the Tennessee-Alabama border. © Byron Jorjorian

Conserving the Cumberlands

This part of Tennessee and Alabama boasts the highest concentration of caves of anywhere in the United States, and harbors the rare Tennessee cave salamander. In addition to the Skyline Wildlife Management Area and the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area, it is also in proximity to other protected areas, including:

The Walls of Jericho also protects part of the headwaters of the Paint Rock River watershed, one of the few intact large functional landscapes remaining in the Southeast. The watershed is home to 100 species of fish and about 45 mussel species, including five globally imperiled mussels and 12 globally rare mussels. Two of the mussel species—pale lilliput and Alabama lampshell—are found nowhere else in the world.

Three globally imperiled fish species—sawfin shiner, blotchside logperch and snail darter—occur in the Paint Rock River. One fish species, palezone shiner, is confined to the Paint Rock River and one stream in Kentucky.

The area also provides important habitat for migratory songbirds, such as the cerulean warbler, and for non-migratory birds like ruffed grouse.

Partnership In Action

The Tennessee Division of Natural Areas co-manages 750 acres of the Walls of Jericho gorge proper within the Bear Hollow Wildlife Management Area. The Conservancy and partners remain active in acquiring land, from willing private landowners, to expand the public land base in the overall project area. 

Visit the Walls of Jericho

Today, the area is open for public access with hiking and equestrian trails that lead into a gorge and a tent-only, primitive camping area located near the Walls of Jericho natural amphitheater. Note that the 3.5-mile, one-way hike is strenuous. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of water and snacks. The trail is well marked but 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. The property outside of the 750-acre State Natural Area is also open for hunting pursuant to State of Tennessee regulations, so please be mindful of open hunting seasons.

A waterfall seeps into a deep canyon.
Walls of Jericho Sinking Falls at the Walls of Jericho, a natural area located along the Tennessee-Alabama border. © Byron Jorjorian

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