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Hike #4b – Juniper Ridge – Lower Loop and Other Options

Juniper Ridge
Juniper Ridge

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive west on 260 for 9.2 miles and turn left at the traffic light before the gas station on Woolford Street.
  • Drive 1.2 miles on Woolford to the four-way stop and turn left on Whipple Street.
  • Drive about 0.8 miles on Whipple to SR 260.
  • Turn left on 260 and immediately get in the right lane.
  • Turn right at the traffic signal on 260 (Clark St) and drive 9.7 miles to Farnsworth Ranch Road on the left.
  • Turn left and drive 1.4 miles on the first paved then gravel road, down the hill to Juniper Ridge Road.
  • Turn left on Juniper Ridge Road, drive 0.4 miles and cross the cattle guard, and turn immediately right on a rough gravel road and park off the roadway.

Trail: Rough gravel and rocky old logging road.

Trailhead and Directions: The road you turned to the right after the cattle guard is the one to follow to the southeast. See the Juniper Ridge Area map. Walk about one tenth of a mile to an opening where vehicles have turned around. The main road goes to the right. But here, turn sharp left on the barely visible old road. This road becomes clearer shortly, but is hard to find when it goes up hill through the rocks. It becomes obvious when it is on the level. Walk this road up the hill for about half a mile where you will see that a blue diamond trail comes in on your right. Immediately after is a crossroad with a wooden sign. Do not cross the road, but turn right and head down hill. The blue diamonds are for the long Juniper Ridge trail that leads to the Forest Service lookout tower on the high point of the ridge. The trailhead for this trail is on Farnsworth Ranch Road just past the turn off to Juniper Ridge Road. See Juniper Ridge Area map. You have turned right and are now walking down a rather steep and very rocky “road.” The stones are loose and roll under your feet so be careful. After you walk down and up a few dry wash “canyons” you will see a gate and fence line ahead. Don't go through the gate, but turn right on the well-traveled road that heads north paralleling the fence. If you go through the gate, you are heading across a wash, a large meadow, and back to the main trailhead. Walk along the meandering road to the north keeping the fence on your left and you will come back to your car.

  • Another Option: From where you are parked, walk the main Juniper Ridge Road up the hill to the north and north east for 0.56 miles. Here you will see blue diamonds for the main very long Juniper Ridge Trail. The trail crosses the road. If you were to take the trail to the right, it would take you back to the trailhead on Farnsworth Ranch Road or on a very long hike up to the ridge. However, if you take the trail to the left, it provides a nice almost level walk for a mile before starting to climb up to the Juniper Ridge lookout. For a shorter hike, drive your car up to the pull off on the left and park by the trail that goes to the left. See the Juniper Ridge Area map.
  • Other Options: You can drive the main Juniper Ridge Road all the way to the Lookout. Along the way are many side logging roads that you can walk. We have walked many and all are good – some long, some short, some flat, but most up and down hill. Most are very rough and suitable only for four wheelers or 4 x 4 jeeps.

Access: Hiking, bicycling, horseback , and by car on the main road. On the trails and side roads, hiking, biking, horseback, and high-clearance 4x4 vehicles. No motorized vehicles on most of the hiking trails, but 4x4 on some. No handicapped access.

Distance: The Lower Loop Option is 1.75 miles. Other areas - as far as you wish to walk.

Difficulty: Almost all trails including the Lower Loop option involves some uphill walking and steep descents on a loose-rocky trails.

Features: The whole area was involved in the Rodeo-Chedeski fire that burned hundreds of square miles in 2002. Most of the downed trees have been removed and there is some regrowth of junipers and especially Gambel Oaks. The area was primarily Ponderosa Pine with lots of Pointleaf Manzanita, Gambel Oak, and junipers. The usual forest birds are present including Steller’s and Western Scrub Jays, Acorn, Hairy, Downy, and a few Lewis’s Woodpeckers, Red-shafted Northern Flickers, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, vireos, warblers, sparrows, finches, Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels. Flowers vary with season. There may be lots of Hairy False Goldenaster and later Showy Goldeneye, a small Gila Milkvetch, lupine, stoneseeds, Hopi Tea Greenthread, Mexican Woolywhite, pussytoes, Winged and Red-root Buckwheat, Indian Paintbrush, Sanddune Wallflower, Ragleaf Bahia, Purple Leafybract Aster, and others.

The whole area is patrolled by hunters and people cutting firewood in fall. It is therefore best to go on weekdays if possible.

Connections: The main Juniper Ridge Trail as described above (see map below).

Juniper Ridge – Lower Loop and other Options
Download Map

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