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Jardine Juniper Trail

Why would you bike 1850 vertical feet just to look at a tree? If you have to ask the question, you aren't a mountain biker. The Jardine Juniper Trail is a nice hill climb, and worth doing just for the ride. At its end point there are great views, plus Utah's oldest tree -- the Jardine Juniper.

If you ride the circle at the end of the trail, plus the path down to the juniper, you'll cover 11.4 miles (round trip). Starting altitude is 5350 feet, with peak altitude at the end of the ridge of 7200.

This is the Jardine Juniper, 3200 years old and still very much alive. In the background, the hills to the east lead over into the Bear Lake Valley. Photos August 31, 2001 by Bruce Argyle.

The trail is intermediate technical singletrack, and it's a fairly strenuous climb. The first two miles, the trail heads straight up the bottom of the canyon, with some undulation and big rocks to knock you around. Although not as steep (on average) as the switchback sections that follow, this part actually seems like harder work because of loose rock, rough trail, and constant gear-switching.

Looking up the trail on the switchback section. Although it's a 12% average grade, the trail here is smooth and non-technical. So just drop down into a comfortable gear and cruise on up.

You'll climb from sage-and-aspen valley bottom to a ridgeline thick with fir, maple, aspen, and fern. Temperatures at the bottom can be warm in mid-summer, but the higher areas are usually reasonable even at mid-day. Riding season is early June until October.

Once the trail turns back south, you're on a steady upward grade, gaining about 600 feet per mile. The trail is quite smooth here, so just drop into a low gear and grind on up. When you hit the Wilderness sign at mile 3.4, continue straight (right).

Near the top of the ridge, at mile 4.8, you can fork left to the shady north slope for a quicker arrival at the juniper, or you can climb further south to enjoy valley views before turning back towards the ride's main attraction. To the juniper turn-off, it's 0.8 miles if you keep right, 0.6 if you turn left. I suggest keeping right.

Elderberries along the trail are ripe and ready to be made into jelly, pancake syrup, or (legal even in Utah) homemade Elderberry Wine.

If you kept straight (right) at the fork, you'll climb along the ridge, then turn back to the north before arriving at the turnoff to the juniper. Drop down to the right. The juniper is found 0.2 miles down some tight steep switchbacks. You can ride it on your bike, if you're good enough. There's some deep sand on a couple of turns that may bog you down as you struggle to climb back up.

Nearing the top of the ridge on the last switchback, this is the view south down the valley from which you started.

The juniper has been dated at 3200 years old. This was a young tree when the Egyptians were building pyramids.

Looking up into the tree. The base is about eight feet thick. Note the twisted branch, and the small section that remains alive at the top.

The rocks found along the trail are mostly limestone and dolomite (also containing calcium carbonate, but darker due to high concentration of magnesium). These were deposited during the Ordovician and Silurian Periods (500 to 410 million years ago).
This period followed the "Cambrian Explosion" when the basic body types of all modern animals developed, but before the deep-water deposits of the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian Periods. At this time, plant and animal life did not yet exist on land. Because the western shoreline of the continent ran through the Logan area, some quartzite (from sand of seashore deposits) is found in strata from this same time.

Looking north, as dolomite cliffs frame the passage over the mountains to Bear Lake.

This is one of the best intermediate-biker singletrack hill-climbs in the state. You should add the Jardine Juniper to your list of "Great Rides I've Done."

Jackie pauses for a drink at the trailside, as the spring water trickles over travertine deposits onto a foot-cooling pool.

Getting there: In Logan, turn east on US-89 towards Logan Canyon (about 2 miles). After you enter the canyon, drive 10 miles. Watch for the Woods Camp Campground on your left. Go straight up the gravel road to the parking area 0.1 miles later.

Riding Resources for Jardine Juniper:
  Topo map:  View map 
  Single-page riding guide
   Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to Logan resources
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Garmin     Nat Geo     Google Earth     GPX

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