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Juniper Mesa Trail #20, AZ

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Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott NW
3.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5.45 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,300 feet
Elevation Gain 949 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.78
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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15  2015-06-06
The Juniper Loop
15  2015-06-06
The Juniper Loop
15  2015-06-06
Juniper - Happy Camp - Miltary Loop
11  2014-01-11 Jonnybackpack
15  2014-01-11
O&W3-Juniper20-Bull100 Loop
16  2013-05-25
Oak Willow-Juniper Mesa-Bull Spring Loop
10  2013-05-25
Oak Willow-Juniper Mesa-Bull Spring Loop
9  2003-07-06 Abe
Author Abe
author avatar Guides 17
Routes 0
Photos 296
Trips 59 map ( 426 miles )
Age 61 Male Gender
Location Prescott, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:19am - 6:28pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Named place Nearby
by Abe

Likely In-Season!
Note The summary here represents one leg a three-trail loop, hiked in the following order:
1) Juniper Springs #2, 3.7 mi
2) Juniper Mesa Trail #20, 5.7 mi
3) Oaks and Willow Trail #3, 3.2 mi
4) 7.5 mi on FR 150 back to trail #2

I strongly recommend hiking this trail in mid-spring or mid fall.

I arrived via the Juniper Springs trail and decided to take an extended break. Pulled my boots and socks off to let them air dry before continuing.

After the brief respite, I decided to take a stroll down the trail and see if I could locate Juniper Springs. The trail comes to a fence marking the wilderness boundary and I did not find anything other than an empty water tank and empty water trough. Nearby is another trailhead, that forest road 9867A comes into. In the area is a broke down, run down feed trough for horses that had seen its better days.

I found out later in the evening talking to Jim, that if I had gone down pass the feed trough I would have found the spring, or at least a pipe with a trickle of water coming out. From my journal, "You can feel the heat, everything is dry. Good gosh, the first half mile of trail #20 I had an elevation gain of at least 700 feet!! Kicked my butt. Rocky! The trail seems to be made up of broken quartz!" The trail does level off and pretty much remains that way with a few minor dips. And so I walked a leisure pace under the pines and junipers lining the trail. Oddly, I ran into a fence line which pretty much runs parallel to the trail throughout the hike. What the heck is it for? To keep hikers from peering over the ledge or stupid cows from falling off? However, I did come across breaks in the fence, allowing me to stand on rock outcroppings and affording me a panoramic view below.

Notwithstanding, even in the harsh environment of rocks, dirt, and heat, I found beauty. Hidden almost shy, tenderly clinging on to life among the giants of pine and junipers. "Lunch! Consisted of cheese and crackers, a peanut butter power bar, and beef jerky. My appetite is slated and that is good. But if all is well and I read the map right I have only one hill left to climb, then it looks fairly easy w/ the trail @ 7000 ft plus & level."

A mistaken journal entry. After writing that I ended up having two hills to climb. So much for my land navigation and map reading skills. We pressed on eventually coming out on level ground and pleasant pace.

It is about this time I begin to consider my water and wrote, "Ran out in platypus." My first three liters of water is depleted. I have three liters of water remaining and quite a distance to cover before my anticipated campsite. I continue, thinking I can nurse my remaining water.

Surprisingly, I ran into another backpacker by the name of Jim and his dog, a aussie heeler it looks like. Both heading in the direction I have just traveled. We exchanged formalities, trail conditions and the likes. Before going our separate ways he told me about a large pile of rocks which indicates a shortcut off the mesa leading down to Bull Spring. I not only found one pile of rocks, but another a few yards down the trail.

Standing near the first pile of rocks though, I considered the option of hiking down at this point, studying what appears to be a trail slipping into the trees possibly leading down of the mesa. However, my map did not indicate any such trail near this point dropping off the mesa, so I decide not to pursue it. After all, I had trail #20 to finish.

From this point the trail is nice and after a couple of miles give or take, you will come upon a fence and trail #3, the Oaks and Willows Trail. A sign nearby points you in the right direction. To my right trail #3 will take you down to Pine Springs and I considered hiking down to it. However, this would tack on an additional four or five miles round trip, with no guarantee of water. I am hooking a left.

Continue on to Oaks and Willow Trail 3

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2003-07-06 Abe
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Prescott FS Details
Lying entirely within the Juniper Mesa Wilderness, this trail offers magnificent views to the south from the mesa rim. The trial is relatively level at an elevation of about 7,000 ft., traversing through Ponderosa pine, Gambel's oak, and Alligator juniper. In one of the most remote sections of northwestern Arizona, it offers the wilderness traveler an experience of solitude and vast panoramas of this semi-arid region.

Maps, other resources: Prescott National Forest, west half; U.S.G.S. topographic 7.5' quads for Juniper Mountain and Indian Peak.

Trail layout: The trail begins at Juniper Springs on the east end of Juniper Mesa. It climbs to the top of the mesa and then continues along the southern rim of the mesa for about 6.5 miles. The western end of the trail intersects Trail #3 (Oaks & Willows Trail) from where you can continue on Trail #3 either west to join FR 150 by way of George Wood Canyon or northeast to Pine Springs and FR 7.

Precautions: There is no water available along this trail. There is water at Juniper Spring but it has not been tested for quality.

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
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Juniper - Happy Camp - Miltary Loop
Out to the Juniper Mesa Wilderness again to check out some new areas.

We attacked this in a CCW direction this time.

Bull Spring #100 is in great shape. This trail's views get better the higher you climb. Juniper Mesa #20 yields some spectacular views if you make your way out to the edge. I really want to complete the eastern portion of this trail, over to Juniper Spring. This is really the jewel of this hike.

Joe took us down the off trail portion instead of up like we did last time. Much easier in this direction meeting up with Trail #9124.

Next we planned to hit the Old Military Trail #1 about in the middle and hike it North to it's northern terminus at Happy Camp. This trail's been on my "To Do" list for awhile now. We were unable to find where the trail anywhere near where the Topo maps show it off of FR7. After heading in the general direction of Happy Camp, we stumbled across the trail, fairly well worn, cairned and blazed. I need to get back there and see how far off the TOPO trace it is from the actual trail going to the south.

At the Happy Camp area, we ate out lunch and relaxed for a bit. We had a bit of a road walk to hit our next "Trail" Happy Camp Trail #9853 I'm sure is there, but with recent and current bovine activity, there's trails everywhere. We pretty much stuck to the Topo trace on the map to get us back.

Oaks and Willows Trail #3 was a bit steep and loose dropping off the ridge, but leveled out to a nice grade and became tree covered further on down.
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
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The Juniper Loop
Bull Spring Trail #100
Looked recently maintained two years ago. Still has that same high pro glow now. A decent trail with nice trees and views.

Juniper Mesa Trail #20
Highlight of the wilderness. Majestic ponderosas with occasional rim view options. Jump the fence a time or two for the good life. This isn't a well maintained trail for princesses out strolling for knights.

Trail #9124 - Prescott NF
Bruce and I have hit this road/trail twice with his southern off-trail canyon option. This time we accessed descending which made it fairly easy. Off-trail was gentle brushy, only one scratch wearing shorts.

Old Military Trail #1
We hiked 50%. The west end. Trouble finding it for 0.8mi from FS7. In review I can make out a bit more but not all on satellite. Hope to do the eastern end someday to complete the trail. Mainly junipers with some nice alligator junipers on occasion. Little shade on trail, available often for breaks. Typical bone dry juniper land feeling.

Missed the last western mile of #1 I had drawn up from FS Topo. The missed segment is an old 4wd road, it can be traced.

Trail #9853 - Prescott NF
Kinna like rolling the dice in wheat germ. Trail barely exists. Cairns on occasion. Pasture... moo

Oaks and Willows Trail #3
Descended this time. A bit steep in the upper end. Several of us slid a time or two catching ourselves without falling.

27 sec video

nothing stood out
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
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O&W3-Juniper20-Bull100 Loop
Fulfilling my duties as a paid adventure guide for Team Buford™, this weekend's assignment was to gather juniper cones for use in an upcoming Black IPA at the brewery. These trips are always miserable. I never know why I agree to them. :roll:

We found a spectacular spot to set up camp, about 200 feet above the valley floor. That was key since it kept the overnight low temperature to only 31, about 10 degrees warmer than anticipated. Bonus!

With Geoffrey and Aimee along for the adventure, I decided on a 6.5 mile loop up George Wood Canyon, across a short section of the mesa and back down to the TH via the Bull Spring trail. This was ideal at this time of year, with temperatures in the 50s. I'd like to see it when the oaks have leaves, and possibly even in the fall if the timing is right. But summer might be too much here, even with shade. Except for the traverse across the mesa, both the ascent and descent are on south-facing slopes, and while there is some shade, there is also plenty of sun, and I would imagine that summer would be quite hot if you didn't get out very early in the day.

We took our time, stopping on several occasions to harvest some juniper, and once encountering 15-20 hounds on a lion hunt with a couple of horsemen. We heard them barking hours later, but never did hear the expected rifle shot, so who knows if they were successful in their hunt. AZGFD indicates that they issue more lion tags here than anywhere else in the state, and the hunters report a very high success rate.

Despite her obviously tender meat, relative lack of quickness, and the fact we let her wander away from camp, Daisy returned home with us totally undevoured. So that was a plus. I will definitely return to this part of the state!
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
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Oak Willow-Juniper Mesa-Bull Spring Loop
This area just happened to be on both of our lists. Based on past "Less than Gleaming" triplogs and the 2-1/2 hour drive, it just kept getting pushed.

Joe mentioned he wanted to do it, so I threw together a couple of options.

It's always a good time when you get to see new areas of AZ. The last 24 miles of the drive to this hike was on a dirt road. This was more like a dirt highway, smooth and wide. So any vehicle will make it to this Trailhead.

Driving in we saw what appeared to be a Golden Eagle feeding on a dead Fox....

We parked at the well groomed George Wood Canyon TH and started our trek.

Oaks and Willow #3 - A pleasant hike up, next to, and across George Wood Canyon. The trail was in great shape with signs of some usage. We expected this to be mainly exposed, but there was tree cover a-plenty, Oaks galore (No Willows were seen). Good views as you gained elevation. Oaks ans Willows #3 on the north end stops at the Wilderness border and the Pine TH.

We used FS Road #7 for 2 miles to get to the next portion of our loop, Tr#9124. Along this portion of the hike, not paying attention to where I was walking because I was intently focused on something poignant Joe was verbalizing, I came close to stepping on an Arizona Black Rattlesnake. Joe tried to warn me, but was unable to speak before I started doing special little dance while chanting something that sounded Aboriginal.

Trail #9124 heads due south off FS Road #7. We passed what appeared to be an abandoned camp with a couple of quads. This trail is an old 2 track forest road, until it reaches the Wilderness boundary. From this point it's not a single track until it ends aprox 1.8 miles from FS road #7. We bushwhacked up the raviine and hill until we intersected the next portion of our loop.

Juniper Mesa Trail #20 - The views were worth the trip. There were numerous outcroppings that you were able to crawl out on to take in the sprawling views. I'd really like to see the remainder of the 2 miles of the trail to the East.

Bull Springs Trail #100 - One steep loose bugger up top, turning into a recently rerouted smooth trail all the way back to the beginning. You get some sweet views of the Mesa from down below on this trail.

Clockwise is the correct way to hike this loop. Good times.
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
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Oak Willow-Juniper Mesa-Bull Spring Loop
I have been interested in this area for over a decade. Inspired enough that I found an old map I threw together back when I was practically a kid. HAZ legend Abe shares a nice trio of descriptions for the area. I have read all many times.

Due to my ankle Bruce agreed to a reasonable "Hansenaz" approved size loop. I wrote to him
this isn't super exciting but it's been on my wish list for a decade (and very in-season)

My expectations were rock bottom. I was expecting pleasant temps with a lot of junipers and low chaparral.

The drive to the trailhead was interesting in itself. I knew the only thing that keeps Prescott from being a suburb to Phx is the Bradshaw range. I didn't realize it went halfway to Nevada. So this is where all the Californians have decided to call their new Moderately nice homes dot hill after hill further than most probably imagine.

Oaks and Willows Trail #3
The trailhead greeted us with some nice fancy trees. I assured Bruce this wouldn't last. Boy was I wrong. While it isn't a desert fairytale hike under a tree canopy there are trees galore. Only a handful of the pines are huge with the red bark. George Wood Canyon is probably the sweet spot for most.

#3 drops down into Pine Creek via what may be an old road through thick medium sized pines. There is an abundance of oaks throughout. Many of which grow in those circle boquete patches with the outer ones arching out. I'm not gonna call the guy that named the trail a liar but we didn't find the willows referred to in the name. I imagine it was near one of the springs. Since they all seem to be piped and contained these days the ol' willows are probably long gone. :(

Further down Bruce was babbling his head off as usual. I looked over and saw another hiker next to him. My mind processed real quick that it was a rattlesnake. In a funny twist I couldn't verbalise it correctly to Bruce. Which led to him getting extra close followed by the funniest rising kachina dance I've ever seen.

Trail #9124 - Prescott NF
This trail may see a hunter every other year at most but it worked out well for our reasonable sized loop. When it ended we followed a route Bruce created. We got semi lucky as there is a hint of a game trail. We lunched at 10.7mi into our loop at the 6,650 ft contour. The rim was only 400 feet away but we needed to eat and thoughts of lack of shade sealed the deal.

After a pleasant lunch Bruce aborted the ravine and picked a clearer route.

Juniper Mesa Trail #20
We stumbled into #20 and were immediately taken by the rim views. We proceeded west and up for 5-10 minutes then checked out multiple outcroppings. Albeit windy as heck we agreed this was one of the finer parts of this hike.

The western end of #20 was a little more of what I expected. Yet the junipers were more exciting being 4 seed alligator vs 2 seed Utah or 1 seed I'd envisioned.

Bull Spring Trail #100
This one heads STRAIGHT down like a screaming 2 year old. Luckily it eases up quick. After Bull Spring it rides a bench west then contours some ravines before it meets up with #3.

#20 & #3 are most enjoyable. Just not enough for me to slap on a 4 of 5 rating. #100 is best traveled down if you despise sweating profusely. Trailhead registers suggests very few enter the area. I think it's a local hush. Our average high temp for the day was around 75. Typically breezy it felt nice. When the breeze died and the shade let up it felt like the hottest 75 on There are better hikes closer to valley but this was nice enough for me. I think it would make an excellent backpack if you are into that type of torture.

Thanks to Bruce for getting up several official routes for the area, driving and reminding me how to claim food by licking it!

Permit $$

Prescott Forest
Prescott National Forest Pass

Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
Access and trailhead location: The east trailhead is at Juniper Springs at the intersection of FR 9867A and Trail #2.The approach on foot to this trailhead is by way of the Juniper Springs Trail #2 starting from its trailhead on FR 95. To access the trailhead for Trail #2 from Prescott, take the Williamson Valley Road north from Prescott. Stay on this road for 38 miles to the junction with FR 95. Preceed west on FR 95 for about 1.5 miles to the common trailheads for the Juniper Springs #2 and the Old Military Trail #1, just east of the Walnut Creek Work Center. If you wish to travel by vehicle to the east trailhead, continue on FR 6 for about 15 miles, turning north at the junction with FR 95 instead of going straight to Walnut Creek. You will finally reach a junction with FR 9867A. If you reach the junction with FR 7, you have gone about 1.5 miles past the FR 9867A turnoff. Take FR 9867A southwest for about 5.5 miles to Juniper Spring. FR 9867A, however, is suitable for four wheel drive vehicles only; the climb to the spring is steep and rough. The west access is on top of Juniper Mesa where Trail #20 intersects with Trail #3.

Travel time: 2 hr. from Prescott. Road condition: Dirt on FR 6; FR 9867A suitable for 4WD only.

Abe writes:
I arrived via the Juniper Springs trail, #2. See direction to Juniper Trail and continue to drive north on county 5 after passing county 125. You will reach forest road 9867A. Turn left and follow until arriving at trailhead. Note: 9867A is suitable for 4 X 4 only.
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