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Posts Tagged ‘scenic’

A lot of times when I tell people I am from Pennsylvania, I hear how beautiful they think the trees look there during the onset of the fall season. It is true, the trees in Pennsylvania are plentiful, and this time of year they take on a vast array of vibrant colors. I have to say though, Pennsylvania’s mountains have nothing on Utah!

This past weekend, my hiking buddy and I decided to take an adventure through the canyon. This time we chose the Wind Caves trail, a popular, easy hike, yet wonderfully scenic.  The most prominent feature throughout the hike is the China Wall, which is opposite the Wind Caves trail, on the eastern side of Logan Canyon road.

As we hiked the switchbacks, I was in complete amazement with the autumnal display of color that adorned the trees. In every direction that I cast my eyes, I could see reds, oranges, yellows and greens of every kind. In fact, I now understand why there are more than seven colors in a good box of crayons. Some leaves had already completed their earthward descent, laying to winter’s rest early; but most of the leaves still clung to their branches, waiting to have their picture taken. What a glorious time of year for a hike!

We were greeted on the trail by not only a copious spectrum of colorful foliage, but also by families, dogs and all sorts of people enjoying their weekend in the mountains. The air was still warm but it whispered faintly of the crisp, cool autumn breezes soon to come. The sun warmed us as we walked, which made the shade a refreshing place to take brief breaks.

Among the various rock formations that we saw –which are composed of limestone and quartzite, and carved by the wind– were the Wind Caves. At one point, the trail reaches a pinnacle, which is a great spot to take in a breathtaking view of the China Wall. This scenic viewpoint is actually the roof of the alcove called the Wind Caves. After we walked a few feet across a limestone arch, we scrambled down to the alcove where we found a large area to sit in the shade and absorb our surroundings.

The Wind Caves trail is great for all amateur aspiring photographers, such as myself. Utah, in general, is a camera carrier’s dream. All you have to do is point and shoot, and you’re almost guaranteed a great picture.

The trail is also rated  “easy” in the Cache Trails handbook, by Jim Sinclair. This makes it a great family hike. Some parts of the trail are a little narrow, so opposing traffic will sometimes need to yield. Besides that, pack a lunch, fill up your water bottle, and get the kids and dogs in the car and go. The next hike on my list might be the Crimson Trail, which runs along the China Wall. If you have a good pair of binoculars, you may be able to look to the east from the Wind Caves trail and see me over there. Happy hiking!

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A few weeks ago, as I was making my voyage to Tony Grove, I drove past Wood Camp which is just beyond mile-marker 471, on Highway 89. Wood Camp is a tiny campsite adjacent to the Jardine Juniper trailhead.

“What is Jardine Juniper?” you may ask. After a little research in the Cache Trails guidebook that I recently attained through the Visitors Bureau, I learned that the Jardine Juniper is a roughly 1,500 year-old juniper tree. The amazing thing is that it is still alive.

I decided to make a trip to this natural wonder, the next Logan-Canyon-exhibition on my list of things to do. The hike is a 10-mile roundtrip in-and-out, with a loop at the top that offers two variations on approach and descent. I like to have company on longer hikes, so I took a friend to share the experience.

The beginning of the hike starts out in the typical lower elevation landscape of Logan Canyon. Before very long, the trail opens up into several aspen groves and a smattering of scenic clearings. Eventually, the majority of elevation is gained through a series of meandering, gradually inclining switchbacks that require only moderate exertion.

As the trail climbs up the mountain side, travelers will be met with dozens of breath-taking vistas. I was able to capture several photos of the Bear River Mountains and their accompanying valleys. After a little over two hours, we came around one final bend, and I knew instantly that I was looking at Jardine Juniper.

The entire hike was great, but the tree was epic. I’ve never seen a juniper tree anywhere near as large as this one. With every twist skyward you could imagine hundreds of years of bearing through harsh mountain conditions. The most poignant part about the spectacle is at the top of the tree, where one can clearly see that the tree is still alive, indicated by new growth.

After having lunch and capitalizing on photo opportunities, we signed the register at the end of the trail and headed back to Wood Camp. Along the way, we saw a handful of mountain-bikers climbing the trail. A couple of them mentioned they were getting a good workout. For those of you who enjoy a challenging bike ride, add Jardine Juniper to your list.

One thing I really liked about the Jardine Juniper trail was that it was not full of traffic. My friend and I were able to have a peaceful, serene and semi-secluded outdoor experience. I would recommend this hike to anyone with a moderate level of endurance and a love for exceptional, scenic beauty. If you decide to give this trail a go, maybe we’ll see each other out there!

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