The Stephens Gap Cave is not only one of Alabama’s most underrated natural wonders; it is also one on the most beloved.
It's beautiful 143-foot pit attracts cave lovers not only statewide, but nationwide.
Its huge walk-in entrances draw not only hikers to this natural beauty, but serious photographers as well as just plain old outdoor enthusiasts.
The Stephens Gap Cave is unique from a lot of Alabama caves as it has two major entrances.
The first is a walk down entrance, and the second is an entrance to rappel.
For those that are unfamiliar with the term “rappel” in pits, it means to go down a very steep slope by holding onto a rope that is safety fastened to the top of a very secure slope at the top.
The Stephens Gap Cave can be very wet and slippery at times, and even using the first walk down entrance can be tricky at times.
This gorgeous natural attraction features a natural pedestal that you can stand on to take breath-taking pictures.
It is also a very good place to “rappel” from.
There is also a 30 foot drop off of the backside of this pedestal, so you and your friends or family will need to be very careful getting both up and down.
There is also another very unique aspect about this unique cave; it can be extremely loud if water is flowing.
The Stephens Gap Cave has become one of the most beloved caves not only in the state of Alabama, but in the entire southeast.
It’s beautiful 143-foot pit from the walk-in passage is perhaps one of the most photographed of all the caves in the entire nation.
The Stephens Gap Cave is the main feature of the Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve, which is located in the Woodville area of Jackson County, Alabama.
When the Southern Cave Conservatory Inc. acquired this natural wonder, it ensured that it would be both protected as well as preserved for the future cavers, hikers, as well as the photographers that will visit it.
However, there is another very neat attraction that awaits the visitors to this natural wonder.
There is a very short and easy hike to another huge cave with a waterfall, and the hike is about a 2-mile round trip.
The hike starts from the open space where you will park (which will be on your permit) and there is a sign that is labeled “trail-head”.
The trail is very easy to see, but it is also marked with yellow flags that are placed on tress as well, so you cannot miss it.
This trail has also recently been purchased by the Southern Cave Conservatory Inc. and is still in the process of being worked on.
The bottom of the entrance into the pit can only be reached using special skills, as it is 143 below the edge.
You must be able to use vertical caving skills, as well as both the equipment and have the knowledge of how to use it.
There is a lot of basic safety information the average hiker and caver needs to know about the Stephens Gap Cave before you go, and they include some of the following.
This unique wonder can be a wonderful experience but taking the necessary safety precautions is an absolute must.
Have the Right Equipment
The first step for your safety is making sure that you not only have the correct equipment; you must be trained on how to use it.
The easiest ways to ensure you are trained properly is by sharing information with friends who are trained or going to teaching classes that will show you demonstrations.
To reduce the chances of falling at Stephens Gap Cave, you should be very careful to jump or try to slide down the slopes unless you are in total control.
You will need to make absolutely certain that you wear the proper footwear at all times, and make sure all of your equipment is 100% operational.
The other basic caving tool for this type of pit is to make sure you always have at least three points of contact.
This will help protect you when moving over ground that is uneven, like this pit, and it will help to stabilize you when you go down.
The next safety tip is to always watch out for falling objects.
The best way to protect yourself and your friends from any type of falling object is to always wear a helmet.
You should always make sure your equipment is secure, and if something does fall you need to yell “Falling Rock” out loud for anyone below you.
The next safety tip is to be fully aware of hypothermia.
Pits like this are notorious for dropping temperatures, and it only takes a few degrees to begin to affect your body’s ability to function.
Be on full alert for fatigue, sudden attacks of feeling drowsy, any type of sudden exhaustion, or a lack of coordination.
All of these are signs that you are experiencing hypothermia.
The safety precautions when going into Stephens Gap Cave also include the other potential hazards that can and do happen.
Falling and falling objects are not the only possible hazards, as some people can get lost from disorientation because of becoming lightheaded, or because of the lack of light.
Never Cave Alone
Perhaps the biggest safety precaution we can all take is to “never” go into any type of cave by yourself-period.
You should always go with at least one person, but to be totally protected the best size group is 3-4 people
That way if someone does get hurt or lost, there will always be someone there to help you.
Tell someone your plans
Under all circumstances, you should always set a time you are going to go to a cave and let a key contact person know your plans.
Let them know exactly when and where you are going, and if something does happen, you have a backup plan.
Then when you have returned back out safely, let them know that you are done and OK.
That way you are fully protected.
The Stephens Gap Cave is a one of Alabama’s best kept secrets and is certainly a day trip that you should seriously consider, as you will not be disappointed.
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