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.

Trip Summary:
  • Participants:  Brent J., Ralph, Laurel, Teresa, Mira, Young, Joan, and Dave P. (leader) 
  • Drove 15 miles to Cottonwood Canyon
  • Started hiking about 8:30, lunch about 12:00 - 12:30, back to the beginning about 2:20
  • Cloudy skies, warm and humid conditions
  • Hiked about 7.6 miles with about 2100 feet of ascent/descent

NOTE:  Most of this hike was over unofficial trails that have been build or restored by enthusiastic volunteers.

Thanks to Dave P. for the narrative and photos, Teresa for photos and Ralph for photos and GPS data.

The trail to the old juniper splits from Cottonwood Canyon trail about 1/3 mile from the beginning
The trail to the old juniper is well used and well maintained

The trail is so steep that hikers use their hands
Looking toward Logan Canyon on the way to the juniper

The old "Jardine Juniper"
We got to the "Old Juniper" sign after visiting the tree
We took the "shady loop" . . .
 . . . and soon arrived at the Wilderness boundary
Trail damage ahead!

Hiking toward Cottonwood Canyon Lunch with a view

Cliffs above Cottonwood Canyon

A helpful sign
Following the Cottonwood Canyon drainage

A lot of water recently passed through here
Evidence of beaver in Cottonwood Canyon


Tall larkspur Mushroom

Our GPS track shows about 7.6 miles and 2100 feet of ascent.
You can look at our route using Google Earth or download our GPS file.