Juniper Ridge Trail 261

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

Distance10.5mi
Elevation Gain7,554ft
Trailhead Elevation3,651ft
Top5,523ft
Elevation Min/Max3636/5523ft
Elevation Start/End3651/3651ft

Juniper Ridge Trail 261

Juniper Ridge Trail 261 is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Skamania County and Lewis County, Washington. It is within Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It is 10.5 miles long and begins at 3,651 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 21.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,554 feet. Juniper Peak (elevation 5,568 feet) can be seen along the trail. There is also a water along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Quartz Creek Trail #5, Sunrise Trail 262, Sunrise Trail 262a and Tongue Mountain Trail 294.

Juniper Ridge Trail 261 Professional Reviews and Guides

"Unfortunately for hikers, motorcycles are allowed on many of the trails in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Some of these mixed-use trails lead to beautiful destinations like Juniper Ridge. If motorcycles don’t deter you, try this seldom-used hike to a grassy ridge with Mounts Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens all on the horizon. Smart hikers know they can find crowd-free roaming where motorcycles are allowed."

"Ridgetop meadows stretching for miles await you here, though you’ll work hard to reap those rewards. The trail climbs steeply from the low valley bottom to the high ridgeline, but once aloft on those airy plains, you’ll stroll through endless fields of flowers, basking in the glorious views of the South Cascades peaks, from the mammoth volcanoes—Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and even Oregon’s Mount Hood—to the modest little knobs and knolls that make up the heart of the range—Juniper Peak, Jumbo Peak, Sunrise, and Dark Mountain, among others.

The Juniper Ridge Trail climbs south from the trailhead, passing through an old clearcut before ascending through long, looping switchbacks up the snout of the ridge. For more than 2 miles the trail climbs, fortunately offering frequent photogenic views out over the forest and mountains to the north. The path rolls in a long, straight ascent from here, following the ridgeline up and over knobs and knolls, through long, unbroken fields of flowers, to reach the rocky top of Juniper Peak at about 3.5 miles."

"You might not expect to find gorgeous subalpine meadows and amazing views on a trail that starts off by switching back and forth on a rutted trail in deep forest. But the Juniper Ridge Trail is full of wonderful surprises. The top is magnificent, boasting wide-open views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens, as well as local peaks such as Sunrise Peak, Jumbo Peak, and Tongue Mountain. Put this one on your list for sure!

The trail starts off by climbing in second-growth forest under an umbrella of green. Where light hits the forest floor, bushes such as huckleberry and twinflower thrive in the acidic soil. Motorcycles have rutted the trail, causing a V shape in places, so take your time and watch your ankles."

"Ridge-top meadows stretching for miles await you here, though you’ll work to reap those rewards. The trail climbs steeply from the low valley bottom to the high ridgeline, but once aloft on those airy plains, you’ll stroll through endless fields of flowers, basking in the glorious views of the South Cascades peaks, from the mammoth volcanoes—Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and even Oregon’s Mount Hood—to the modest little knobs and knolls that make up the heart of the range—Juniper Peak, Jumbo Peak, Sunrise, Dark Mountain, etc.

The Juniper ridge Trail climbs south from the trailhead, passing through an old clear-cut before ascending through long, looping switchbacks up the snout of the ridge. For more than 2 miles, the trail climbs, offering frequent photogenic views out over the forest and mountains to the north."

"Hike to the open, windswept 5,611-foot summit of Juniper Peak and take in the 360-degree view of the Cascade Range, including Mounts Adams, Hood, St. Helens, and Rainier. On the summit a 360-degree panorama of the southern Washington Cascades comes into your view. Be sure to allow the time to enjoy it. Cell-phone service is generally available from the summit.

The trail climbs south from the trailhead through medium-age forest with little undergrowth. In 1 mile you will make a switchback to the left, at 4,210 feet elevation.There is more underbrush here, much of it huckleberries, and hellebore thrives in the wet spots.The tread makes a couple more climbing switchbacks a quarter mile farther along.You will cross a steep open slope 1.9 miles from the trailhead, at 4,750 feet elevation. Looking to the southeast from the open slope, the bulky, humped form of Mount Adams holds its icy crest far above the sea of green timber, and the summit of Juniper Peak comes into view ahead to the south. Lupine, paintbrush, and leopard lilies splash color on the open slope."

Juniper Ridge Trail 261 Reviews

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7/18/2005
Juniper Ridge #261 - The South Cascades Took off with a group of 7 hikers to Juniper Peak. We got a late start and got to the trailhead south of Tongue Mt. at about 2:30 pm. It was hot and sunny. The trail climbs steadily, but not too steeply. As you approach the ridgeline, the wildflowers are plentiful and the vista opens up to display the Mt. Rainier in all its glory. As we hiked along the ridgeline, the wildflowers became even more abundant and Mt. Adams came into view. Once we rounded Juniper Peak, Mt. St. Helens with a thin stream of steam rising came into view. we scrambled the remaining distance to the summit and took in the BREATHTAKING 360 degree view of the South Cascades, including Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, and a narrow snow-capped peak to the south. There was not a trace of cloud in the sky! The hike down was pleasant and we drove to the nearest stream to cool off. There was no natural water along the entire hike. The downside of this trail is that it is open to motorbikes. As a result, the trail is rutted, sometimes deeply, presenting some hazards for the ankles. During the entire hike, only one group of 2 motorbikes passed us. We scurried off the trail and they quickly passed. The rut is annoying, the noise and fumes and a nuisance and really detract from this incredible trail, but I'm glad I decided to grit my teeth and hike this trail. The views along the way were amazing and the view from the summit was breathtaking. At the register at the trailhead I complained about the motorbikes, but even with them, I highly recommend this trail.
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Trail Information

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Nearby City
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Mountain Biking
Additional Use
Wildflowers
Features
Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District; (360) 497-1100
Local Contacts
Green Trails no. 333, McCoy Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018