Jardine Juniper

Run to an incredible view of the oldest Rocky Mountain Juniper.

Trail Running Moderate

Distance
17 km
Ascent
648 m
Descent
648 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
2.2 km
Gradient
Jardine Juniper Map

The Jardine Juniper is likely the oldest Rocky Mountain Juniper on the planet: it's lived on this mountainside for over 1,500 years. Measuring over 40 feet tall, this gnarled tree is almost entirely bereft of bark, yet a thin strip connects the few remaining needles to its roots as it tenaciously clings to life.

Description

To reach this incredible tree, you'll begin climbing straight from the parking lot on a well-built singletrack trail. As of the time of this writing in 2022, many sections of the trail have recently been rerouted by both the US Forest Service and volunteers from the Cache Trails Alliance. This persistent work and maintenance has bypassed old, eroded sections of trail and helped maintain a smooth, enjoyable trail experience.

While you'll gain over 2,100 feet of elevation in the 5-mile slog to the summit, the smooth trail tread and lack of obstacles account for the "Moderate" FATMAP rating given to this hike. Essentially, the technicality of this trail is Moderate, but the aerobic difficulty is quite a bit higher.

Even still, the grade of the climb is quite achievable, thanks to a series of switchbacks that send the trail skirting along the mountainside instead of pummeling straight to the summit. You'll definitely appreciate the reasonable grades during the climb!

The views help keep your mind off the pain, too. As you climb, vistas of the surrounding Bear River Range open up around you, with mountain peaks high above and a rushing stream far below.

After about 4 miles of climbing, you'll reach a fork in the trail. Take a right to loop around the backside of the mountain. After about another mile, you'll see a second righthand turn. This is the spur that leads down to the Jardine Juniper. The descent to the Jardine Juniper is quite a bit rockier and steeper than the rest of the trail, but it's over quick.

Take some time to bask in the majesty of this ancient tree, and consider what planet Earth was like 1,500 years ago when it was just a seedling. No human civilization from that age still reigns on Earth, and yet, the Jardine Juniper endures.

Returning to the loop from the juniper is a steep slog, but once back onto the loop, the rest of the trail is gravy! Continue counterclockwise along the upper loop to descend through a section of deep, dark forest on the north side of the mountain before rejoining the main trail.

The descent down the main trail goes by quickly as you wind down through the switchbacks along the smooth, black dirt to return to the trailhead.

Note that this trail is quite popular with mountain bikers, so remain aware and vigilant for other trail users.

Difficulty

Moderate

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October, November