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Oaks and Willows Trail #3
4 Photosets

mini location map2022-04-16
14 by photographer avatarGrangerGuy
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Oaks and Willows Trail #3Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking12.30 Miles 2,350 AEG
Hiking12.30 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   2.14 mph
2,350 ft AEG   2 Hrs   45 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I visited Juniper Mesa Wilderness on the back end of a visit to the nearby Apache Creek Wilderness. Juniper Mesa is much more accessible than Apache Creek, with drivable roads almost up to the wilderness boundary. I planned a loop starting from the Oaks and Willows George Wood Canyon trailhead, up Bull Springs Trail #100, a short jaunt on Juniper Mesa Trail #20 back to Trail #3, then north on #3 to the trailhead, and then back all the way on Oaks and Willows Trail #3 to my car. I planned to make water reports on Bull Springs, Pine Springs, and see what was up with a huge catchment just off Trail #3 at the wilderness boundary.

Bull Springs Trail #100. The climb up to Bull Springs was pretty in the early morning light. Found a few flowers. Photographed a few landscapes. Someone had done some recent maintenance; a volunteer crew is my guess based on the log entry at the trailhead. Thanks so much! My planning for this trip went a little awry when I got to the vicinity of Bull Springs. The topo map, and the “HAZ Area Water” show Bull Springs well inside the actual large eastern switchback of the trail. I mucked around there way too long, bushwhacking into that area to try to find the spring. I plan these hikes in great detail, but I missed two important details about the location of the spring. First, there are two waypoints on HAZ for the location of the spring. One on the official route and one in the “HAZ Area Water”. I did not take with me the one on the official route. Second, the trail on the topo map is very different from the official route, and it is clearly conceptual, sketched in by a hurried geographer, I think, and the location of Bull Springs on the map suffered from the same error. I might have found the spring if I just looked on the other side of the trail once. So, sadly, no meaningful water report, just a warning. The climb down from Juniper Mesa to Bull Springs has been the subject of many complaints, regarding rocks and steepness. All true. The climb up really is no problem.

Juniper Mesa Trail #20. I only hiked a short distance west along Trail #20, just to Trail #3. At one point, as the wind whistled over my head, I realized I was just a few feet from the ridgeline, and If I went up there, I might get some views. Indeed, there are some great views in this section out over the valley.

Oaks and Willows Trail #3. I turned right at the intersection, and began heading steeply down along an ancient road, along an unmaintained fence. In a short distance, the road turned left and began to follow a sweet, relaxing ravine. My mission was to visit the Pine Spring at the trailhead, but clearly the point of this trail was the journey along this ravine. It is beautiful with stands of Ponderosa Pine leaning over the trail, grasslands, and lovely smells. This was by far the most beautiful hike of my week. I checked out the troughs at the spring. Both were full and a small trickle overflowed from the lower one. I could not divine how the upper tank filled, but it must be through the muck at the bottom. I pulled the “animal escape ramp” out of the muck and put it back where it would do some good.

Having had some lunch, I headed the 5.5 miles back along Trail #3 to my car at the other end. Once up on the mesa, the landscape is flat in all directions. It would be great dry camping. Then the trail heads over the south side of the mesa and down getting progressively steeper and rockier. I think it is no better than the top section of Trail #100 in the steepness and rockiness department, so pick your poison going down from the mesa. I visited the catchment just outside the wilderness boundary. It is a huge installation, but the water collected goes into a 2” pipe and disappears underground. I can only surmise it supports water use lower down at the O RO Ranch, west of the trail.
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Pine Springs
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
I photographed a few flowers, but it is not overwhelming. Astragalus, verbena/vervain, wholeleaf paint brush, dandelion, and creeping oregon grape.

dry Bull Spring Dry Dry
Actually, the spring might not be dry, but it is not at the coordinates indicated in the top of the water report, nor at the coordinates shown on the USGS map. It MIGHT be at the coordinates shown with a waypoint on the official route, N34.94603 W-112.92937, but I did not have that point with me. There is nothing but dense brush at N34.94724 W-112.93046. Perhaps someone could verify.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Pine Springs Dripping Dripping
Both stock tanks full. The lower one was dripping a little.
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