Cottonwood-Jardine Loop, 20 August, 2023
There was a little rain overnight but eight people showed up for the hike: Brent J., Ralph, Laurel, Teresa, Mira, Young, Joan, and Dave P. (leader). We parked by the highway where Cottonwood Creek crosses and started hiking about 8:30. A little ways up we turned left and switch-backed up to the south ridge. The weather was cloudy and humid, but there were still great views from the ridge including scattered low clouds at our level in the canyons. Ralph had a cast on one wrist but was able to climb the steep ridge with the help of a pole in the other hand. After a snack break at the Jardine Juniper we took the shady route of the Jardine Juniper trail. This section was particularly cool and refreshing after the hot climb and there were plenty of thimble berries to sample.
At the turnoff to the Cottonwood Trail there was an official sign saying “Caution. Severe trail damage ahead! Trail is impassable for horses in 0.7 miles.” We proceeded anyway and found that a short section of trail that traverses a steep rocky slope had mostly washed out, leaving about 10 inches for hikers to pass, but which could have collapsed under a horse. We ate lunch at the pass between the North and South Forks of Cottonwood Canyon.
We continued north on the Trail about 0.2 mile and turned off down a user trail into lower Cottonwood Canyon. The vegetation was thick but the trail was easy to follow. The plants were still wet from the previous night’s rain, which soaked our pants. But the weather was hot and muggy, so this felt good. The streambed had intermittent water. We were surprised to see an aspen that had been gnawed by a beaver in a dry section. However, there was evidence of high water earlier, including fresh cobbles 4 feet above the streambed. Farther down there was a cut-off pool with fish and we wondered if they would survive until the water rises enough to let them escape. We returned to the cars about 2:30.
Most of this hike was over unofficial trails that have
been build or restored by enthusiastic volunteers.
to Dave P. for the narrative and photos, Teresa for
photos and Ralph for photos and GPS data.