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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

JUNIPER SPRING

JUNIPER SPRINGS Juniper Mesa Wilderness It’s a long, uphill haul to the springs that nourish a peaceful green meadow beneath the summit of Juniper Mesa. However, spectacular valley views on the way up will buoy your spirits and fuel your determination to get there. As the rocky path gains elevation along an exposed ridgeline of weathered granite megaliths, an expansive landscape of the vibrant green forests and prairies of Williamson Valley roll out below, melting into a horizon of gently rolling blue hills. The Juniper Spring trail # 2 offers the easiest access to this rugged and remote wilderness area. The first mile or so of the trek wanders through a wonderland of mica-encrusted cliffs and ledges, wild roses, alligator juniper and Douglas fir as it climbs to the wilderness boundary at the base of the mesa. From there, the crumbling sandstone trail dodges in-and-out of shady thatches of juniper and pine trees before emerging into a bucolic meadow where ice-cold water trickles into a rustic metal tank and trough. Highlights: Splendid views of pastoral Williamson Valley, granite cliffs, and an old corral near a flowing spring. Length: 8 miles round-trip Rating: moderate Trail elevation gain: 1,000 feet Elevation range: 5,100’ – 6,100’ Driving distance from Phoenix: 155 miles one-way Getting there: From Prescott, take Williamson Valley Road (also signed as Forest Road 6 and County Road 5). Follow this road for 38 miles to the junction with Forest Road 95. Go left (west) on FR 95 (also signed as County Road 125 and Walnut Creek Road), which is located just past a single-lane bridge. Continue west on FR 95 for 1.5 miles to Walnut Creek Station. The trailhead is two-tenths-of-a-mile beyond the station. Information: (928) 777-2200 or fs.fed.us/r3/prescott

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