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Oaks and Willows Trail #3, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott NW
3 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,958 feet
Elevation Gain 1,106 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,185 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.15
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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13  2016-05-21
Juniper Fort
15  2015-06-06
The Juniper Loop
15  2015-06-06
The Juniper Loop
15  2015-06-06
Juniper - Happy Camp - Miltary Loop
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
34  2011-09-23 Lthornton
Page 1,  2
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, Apr, May, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:16am - 6:36pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Beautiful Canyon
by Abe

Likely In-Season!
The summary here represents one leg of a three-trail loop, hiked in the following order:
1) Juniper Springs Trail #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 did not hike the entire length of the trail having arrived at the half way point from the Juniper Mesa 20.

An E-Mail response from Prescott National Forest to my enquiring about the fire. "The Juniper fire, being managed under a use fire, has significantly died down since the June 19th report. All the trails are opened in the Juniper wilderness. You may encounter some small duffers putting up smoke along the edges of the fire in the George Wood canyon. It is likely that this will continue until our monsoonal rains come later this month and then we will check the fire and decide if it is out or not. We do not feel that your personal health and safety is in danger due to minimal fire activity."

My last journal entry, "I think I am on tr #3. Fire recently burned through here from a lightning strike June 6th. I had to back track. Found a burned trail sign. But I am sure this is trail #3. Water critical."

After hooking my left to follow trail #3, I caught a whiff of wood smoke in the air and I knew I was nearing the burn area from a recent fire. Surprisingly, it was not bad. The burn was only in patches throughout the area. Yet I was paying attention to the trail because I knew it would fork left and I still missed it! When I realized that, I turned around and back track until I found Jim's footprints and come across a burned out gate and sign. Passing through I continued down the trail to George Wood Canyon and the start of my final leg of the journey.

First, I took a long break to consider my overnight option. I had a liter and a half of water left at this point. Four hours of sunlight left, fourteen hours before I would resume my hike; at least another 10 miles. I knew I would drink most of the water during that course of time of inactivity. I could ration what I had remaining; however, I consider that option silly, it went against my grain. Below were ranch houses along county road 125, so I am sure I could fill up down there on my hike back. But this bothered me for some reason, something macho in my mind, I started on my own steam, I would finish on my own steam. I did not have a desire to conclude my hike with no water.

I decided to go and finish my hike. Putting on my pack and cussing myself out for lack of planning the water right, I started down into George Wood Canyon. This portion of my hike is perhaps the most pleasant of the entire trip. Green and lush; the sight was pleasing to my wore out eyes. I was wishing the creek was running through the canyon, it would have been grand and I would have stopped and enjoy it, camping here for the evening. But alas it is bone dried.

The stroll through the canyon was short and comes straight out into the open. Behind me Juniper Mesa watches my departure. Down here the trail is marked with cairns which is easy to follow. It was not long before I hit the Oaks and Willows trailhead and Yavapai County Road 125. The walk down to the road was quick, I wanted to make my jeep before dark.

In closing, about a half of mile from my trailhead, I ran into Jim and his dog hiking down the road to get to his trailhead seven miles away. We chatted about our day and then I offered him a ride to his truck I passed a couple of hours before. He accepted without hesitating.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2003-07-05 Abe
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Prescott FS Details
From the south trailhead this trail travels through the heavily wooded George Wood Canyon, that provides a gateway to the Juniper Mesa Wilderness. By connecting with other wilderness trails, the traveler has several options for exploring this remote part of northern Arizona.

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 works its way up from the north fork of Walnut Creek, offering a view of Aztec Pass, an important early pioneer route. Heading for George Wood Canyon, the trail enters the Juniper Mesa Wilderness and climbs up the edge of Juniper Mesa to the mesa top. Continuing across the top, the trail intersects Trail #20, which runs east across the top of Juniper Mesa to Juniper Springs about 6.5 miles. From the intersection with Trail #20, Trail #3 runs down the Pine Creek drainage to FR 7.

For the easiest hiking available in the Juniper Mesa Wilderness, follow directions given above to the east trailhead; then hike up the two-track trail past the wilderness boundary. This is Trail #3.

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
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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Juniper Fort
I planned to visit two hilltop forts I could see in satellite pictures. Unfortunately, when I got near the start (about half way between Prescott and Seligman) I found out I'd forgotten my GPS.

I knew enough about one of them that I figured I could wing it, so I found the trailhead and started up the Oaks and Willow Trail. Nice walking on a cool windy day and when I got to the edge of Juniper Mesa I left the trail and started through the trees and bushes. It wasn't too thick and my sense of direction was good enough to get me to the ridge I needed to follow to it's end.

The ridge itself was pleasant with a lot of sharp but walkable limestone and I did find the fort, as expected, right at the end: a good overlook location. The walls are thick but not too high. I didn't see any other artifacts there (pottery, glyphs etc.) but that's typical for these forts/outlooks which weren't used for habitation.

I bushwacked back to the car with a short road walk.

The other fort was a no go....too many hilltops for me to be sure which was the right one. Looking at the map now I think my top two guesses (I briefly considered taking a chance on) were wrong. Oh well, I may go back another time...
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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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.
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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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
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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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!
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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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.
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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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!
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
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Decided to Hike this trail because it was featured in the latest issue of the Arizona Magazine.

The directions were confusing to get here because only the Forest Service Road numbers were used, yet there were no (I was unable to see any) FS Signs. Also, We came in from the Seligman to the North and the directions were from the South. The directions said to go North 38 miles yet the turn off was at the 36 mile marker.

So, to clarify the directions, from the South, drive out Williamson Valley Road. At milepost 35 you will pass a ranch on the right hand side. Right after the ranch you will pass over a creek bed on an old railroad trestle style bridge. Once you cross the bridge there will be a sign for a left turn onto Walnut Creek Road. This is also known as Yavapai County Road #125.

A little down the road you will pass the Walnut Creek Center, Keep going. Shortly after that you will see a sign saying Locked gate 7 Miles ahead. This is your destination! When you arrive at the trailhead there is a parking lot with pull-thru parking.

From here you will start off on the Oaks & Willows #3 Trail. Intersecting with this trail is the Bull Springs Trail, the Happy Camp Trail #9853 and the Pine Springs Trail.

The trail starts out in a nice wooded area and follows along for a couple hundred yards until it turns left, crosses a wash and you suddenly enter high desert with grasses, prickly pear cactus and juniper trees. Not much shade until the 1 mile mark. At about 1 mile you will enter the Juniper Mesa Wilderness and follow a nice trail through the woods for about 1/2 mile. At 1/2 mile into the wilderness you will start the switchbacks that are very steep and rocky. Careful for your knees and ankles.

Climb up and up and up for the next 1/2 mile to the top of the Mesa. Along the top of the Mesa is a nice gentle walk for about 1 1/2 miles. You will pass junction for the the Happy Camp Trail #20 (takes off to the left) and shortly after you will come to the Juniper Mesa #20 trailhead (takes off to the right) At this point the trail begins a steady but gentle descent for about 700 feet. follow the trail to the end and you will come to the end of the trail where the trail meets FS Road #7. Total distance to this point is 5.5 miles. Round trip is 11 miles.

Note: I didn't have a map and later found out that if at the top of the hill had we taken Juniper Mesa Trail #20 it would have intersected with Bull Springs Trail #100 which takes you back to near the beginning of the trail.

All in all it was nice to get a hike in, but this trail was so rocky, that it made it hard to travel at a decent pace. Also hard on the knees, ankles and feet. My opinion this is a fair trail, no spectacular views or scenery. Not a lot of shade.

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
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Access and trailhead location: Take the Williamson Valley Road north from Prescott. Stay on this road (FR 6) for 38 miles to the junction with FR 95. Turn west on FR 95 for about 1.5 miles to the Walnut Creek Station. From here travel west on FR 150 for about 6 miles to the trail. FR 150 dead-ends at a locked gate; at this point it is difficult to turn around. Instead of parking here, travel only as far as the "Locked Gate Ahead" sign, which is just 0.3 miles past the Trail #3 (Oaks and Willows) turn-off. Turn around here, and backtrack to the trailhead.

To reach the east trailhead, take FR 150 east from the Walnut Creek Station for 2 miles to FR 6. Take FR 6 north for 7 miles to FR 7; take FR 7 southwest for 6 miles to the Pine Springs trailhead at the end of the road.

Travel time: 1.5 hr. from Prescott. Road condition: Paved to the Camp Wood junction (FR 21), then dirt

Abe writes:
Arrived from Juniper Mesa 20. Or instead, take the directions to Juniper Springs, but continue down road 125 about 7 miles. The trailhead is on the right and unmarked.

Lthornton 2011-09-26 from the South, drive out Williamson Valley Road. At milepost 35 you will pass a ranch on the right hand side. Right after the ranch you will pass over a creek bed on an old railroad trestle style bridge. Once you cross the bridge there will be a sign for a left turn onto Walnut Creek Road. This is also known as Yavapai County Road #125.

A little down the road you will pass the Walnut Creek Center, Keep going. Shortly after that you will see a sign saying Locked gate 7 Miles ahead. This is your destination! When you arrive at the trailhead there is a parking lot with pull-thru parking.
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