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FATMAP difficulty grade
It's rare to find a mountain bike ride that offers incredible mountain views, an achievable climb, a thrilling high-speed descent, and a beautiful natural feature at the summit.
But you'll enjoy all that and more on this ride to the Jardine Juniper. 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. 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, fast trail experience.
The addition of a few switchbacks has also mellowed out the climbing, which you'll appreciate as you ascend the mountainside. While this ride gains over 2,100 feet of vertical in the 5-mile slog to the top, the trail grade is achievable and quite pedalable.
It's definitely a workout, but most riders will be able to spin their way straight to the top of the mountain.
The views help keep your mind off the pain.
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. While the descent to the Jardine Juniper is definitely rideable, it's a bit more difficult than the Moderate FATMAP rating noted here.
This short, rocky descent is filled with tight switchbacks and would score a "Difficult" on our scale.
But since it's optional (and also possible to walk instead of ride), the overall difficulty of this ride has been noted as Moderate. 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 ride 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. Now it's time to grip it and rip it! The descent is fast and furious, with beautiful black dirt providing great traction when slightly damp, but getting dusty in mid-summer.
Either way, the swoop and flow of this steep descent is an absolute riot! There are few technical obstacles to provide difficulty, with a few sharp switchbacks serving as the only impediment to your flow. Enjoy the fast downhill, but keep your eyes peeled for uphill traffic and other trail users.
On the weekends, this trail can get quite busy.
Be sure to yield to hikers and horses and all uphill traffic.