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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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