This is a Life List hike, most folks have a list they add to over time, picking trails they really want to hike and the Walls ranks up there on many lists. At 6 miles RT, it seems like an easy day hike and I have done it as such. There is a primitive campground with a porta-potty at the top near the parking lot (AL trailhead only) and a backcountry site at the bottom near the cemetery with 6 or 8 sites.
We combo tent and hammock camped in late April and were the only people down there both days. The campsite is within feet of the cemetery and we tried scaring each other to no avail. Then the coyotes started up. They were also IN the cemetery and carried on for a couple of hours but never bothered us. The kids had gone to bed, but got right back up and decided to have a fire after all!
A second trip, we hammocked along the creek in February on a weekend and there were at least a dozen tents set up nearby.
There is a creek crossing just before the campsite, don’t get water here because it’s often stagnant. Continue through the campsites along the trail that parallels the large field-not the one that is marked to turn to go to the Walls-and there is a fast-moving clean stream not far at all. The water is in much better shape!
There are four trailheads a few miles apart, a horse trailhead and hiking trailhead on each side of the state line. Watch the signs, the horse trailhead is first coming up from Hytop and many people make the mistake of hiking that instead and get turned around at the bottom and miss the Walls entirely. The hiking trail from the TN trailhead is about 2 miles longer, but not as steep as the AL hiking trail. Coming in from the AL trailhead, the trail goes downhill about 2 miles until it reaches the creek and flattens out. The TN trail meets up at this point and they follow the same route from there. It continues on a quarter of a mile or so until it reaches the cemetery/campsites. The turning is marked, the trail continues a half a mile along the creek and then up and down short climbs as the canyon narrows. Huge high cliffs loom overhead.
To get to the bowl that is the Walls of Jericho, you have to cross a creek. This is easy enough in most conditions, but likely treacherous after heavy rain. The water is COLD, coming out of the ground from springs just a few feet away. There are 2 small climbs, one is fairly easy but the other, up and over the lip to the larger of the two bowl areas, is a little tricky. Well, for me. The kids walked up it like it was a handicap ramp.
Having done this as a day hike and an overnight (with Theory, Kleio and Ranger 2, PG and Mountain Ostrich) I can say I enjoyed the overnight more, but NOT that hike out. Holey Moley. There is a sign at the top that says to have at least 7 hours to complete the hike. When you arrive at the Walls barely an hour later, you wonder what that other 6 hours are for. Wonder no more-it’s the climb out. hahaha
Yes, that’s a nearly relentless 1100 foot climb in 2 miles. That’s huge for our neck of the woods. I had little trouble as a day hike, but my added backpack weight nearly killed me-this was our first overnight of the year. Next time, I am picking something less ambitious to start off!