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Juniper Flat - Sierra Ancha
2 Photosets

mini location map2020-05-21
15 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Juniper Flat - Sierra AnchaGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar May 21 2020
Hiking8.32 Miles 629 AEG
Hiking8.32 Miles   4 Hrs   14 Mns   1.97 mph
629 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I don’t get out to the Sierra Ancha too often, as it is a three hour drive from Sunnyslope, despite being only 67 miles away as the crow flies. Or hawk, as I would later discover.

Exploring Juniper Flat is a total, but mild, bushwhack.

From the trailhead, I headed northeast, making sure to stay on the Juniper Flat side of the unnamed canyon that separates it from Elephant Rock Mesa.

Besides simply enjoying the day, my main objective was to see if there was a way down to the mines / caves, I had previously spotted from Elephant Rock Mesa ( [ photoset ] ). They were on the Juniper Flat side of the canyon, maybe 200 ft. down from the rim. When I got near to where they should be, I would get closer to the edge, peer around, move over a bit, repeat, etc. There were some cracks in the rim that I could have scrambled down to about the right level, but didn’t want to waste the energy if I didn’t see the caves first. It might be a small, unnamed, canyon, but it is sheer & rugged.

Moving along the rim of the unnamed canyon, and Cherry Creek into which it feeds, had both the most tangled vegetation on Juniper Flat, and also the most open movement. Where it was tangled, I would “dip in & out” from the rim, as I sought a less tangled path — which is why the attached GPS route looks so jagged. Where the rim was clear, it was smooth sailing across flat stone outcroppings.

Juniper Flat has much less wildfire damage than Elephant Rock Mesa, so there is plenty of shade. Still, I got quite sunburned from spending so much time on the exposed rim of Cherry Creek.

3.0 miles into my explore, I found two cairns about 25 yds. apart: one regular size, one with large stones. I couldn’t figure out their purpose, nor that of an obviously placed wood pole at the 3.4 mile mark. The wilderness boundary was nearby, so maybe that is why? 🤔

A ¼ mile west of the wood post is a beautiful, layered, dryfall that would be spectacular if water was running. I got buzzed by an irate hawk (see video below), who must have had a nearby nest. As I had already been exploring three hours, I decided to skip the northern half of my planned Juniper Flat figure 8.

The first 3.5 miles of my Juniper Flat exploration were in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. I crossed the wilderness boundary two other times, and approached it a third, but never saw a fence of any sort, other than by the trailhead, and along the Young Highway / AZ-288. There is no fence along the Cherry Creek rim, nor where the dirt road crossed the wilderness boundary. (It ends in a loop a ¼ mile into the wilderness.) With no barrier, it was no surprise to see an OHV exploring the dirt road.

After walking the dirt road’s length, I again headed off trail, searching for Juniper Flat Tank — which is not where the map claims it is. I did, however, find a land survey monument and the cadastral survey marker for the northeast corner of the Cagle Cabin admin site.

What I assume is Juniper Flat Tank, was 200 yds. away. It was a large, waterless, clearing with two large water bladders, wood benches, an upright metal tank, a small metal tank on a trailer, and an old home site with two concrete foundations, a stone grill / BBQ pit, and a mostly intact stone chimney. From Juniper Flat Tank, it was under a mile back to the trailhead.

Hike Video:
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Juniper Flat has quite a bit of vegetation, mostly pine, pinyon, juniper, manzanita, etc. No catclaw that I recall. The few cacti were mostly prickly pear, which had some amazing flowers. Fleabane and some yellow flower I can never remember the name of were quite common. The manzanita were blooming their tight clusters of white & pink flowers. I also found New Mexico thistle, indian paintbrush, century plant, and an absolutely stunning purple number that I believe was a Gunnison’s Mariposa Lily.
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