Weekend Recap: Stephens Gap
Stephens Gap has been on my bucket list for a while, and last weekend I finally got to visit. It’s located in a totally unsuspecting area right outside of Huntsville, AL. Tucked away a mile into the woods and under the ground, it is one of the most hidden and photogenic spots in the Southeast.
What To Bring
What To Expect
The drive is two hours from Nashville and relatively easy to locate on Google Maps, but the address is 8408 County Road 30, Woodville, AL. Because the cave is protected, you have to request and fill out a permit through the SCCi. If you are planning to go, requesting a date and filling out the permits in advance may be beneficial. The first time my group tried to go, the weren’t any more available time slots for that day. When you arrive, place your permit on the dashboard of your car.
Once you have filled out the necessary paperwork, you will receive a code for the gate at the entrance of the parking lot. From there, the hike to the cave is straightforward and not to strenuous. It’s about a mile each way. There are yellow diamond trail markers on the trees, if you happen to veer off the path.
There are two main entrances to the cave. The one at the end of the trail is a walking entrance that slopes down through some waterfalls. If you are going to rappel, there is a keyhole entrance located on the opposite side of the top opening of the cave. To find it, you will walk left around the top opening. You will scale a small rock wall approximately 10 feet high. Once you get to the top of the wall, you will easily recognize the keyhole. It is a small cutout directly beside the top opening. If you plan to rappel, make sure you properly back up your anchor, and are confident in your ability to check your knots. Your line should extend at least 150ft. The first 30ft of the rappel is a tight squeeze through rocks, then you are in open air.
We were each able to do the rappel multiple times because of the easy access walk-out exit.
The best spots for taking photos are located on the back wall of the cave, and in the morning/summer months beams of light should be reflecting through the opening.
There are a lot of slippery rocks and cliffs within the cave, so make sure you are in a secure position if you are taking photos.
Helmets are required if you are going to rappel, and strongly recommended if you are walking in.