Juniper Gulch is a side canyon in Leslie Gulch which is a beautiful landscape of towering, colorful cliffs and honeycombed rock formations. The towers and cliffs of Leslie and Juniper Gulches are made up of a consolidated volcanic ash called Tuff which was deposited over 15 million years ago with eruptions emanating from the Mahogany Mountain and Three Fingers Caldera. These violent explosions buried the area in a layer over 1,000 feet thick. As water and time have eroded away the area, the cliffs and towers of tuff have remained.
The trail up Juniper Gulch begins from a marked trailhead on the right side of Leslie Gulch road. There will be a wide spot in the road to park on the right, or north side of the road, and a vault toilet can be found to the south. The Juniper Gulch “trail” is located within the Honeycombs Wilderness Study Area, and none of the trails within the WSA are maintained. Thus, long pants are advised in this area as you wind your way past sagebrush that loves to scratch your lower legs.
As you leave the parking area, look for some small trails that descend to the gully bottom. The trail follows the gully as it winds its way through towering cliffs and meandering through and under giant slabs of rock. There will even be the occasional slot canyon or two off to the sides.
After about ¾ of a mile, you will come to a significant branch in the canyon. You will ultimately want to be in the canyon off to the left, but there is one major obstacle along that path. Quickly after the fork, you will come to a 12 foot dry waterfall that you will have to get over. You can skirt it for the most part by climbing up the left side of the canyon and working around it, but it does involve some serious rock scrambling. After that, the fork is pretty fun to explore, with channels carved in the rock.
If you decide you don’t want to climb the waterfall, you can head to the right. This route is a takes a little longer, but not much. Eventually, you will pop out onto a small ridge between the two branches. Here, you will want to work your way over this ridge, which is mostly smooth rock, and back into the left branch.
The two paths will merge at about the 1.1-mile point of the hike. Here, you will find another trail making its way up Juniper Gulch. The scenery along this stretch of the gulch is awesome, with stunning towers and lots of honeycombed cliffs. The trail also really begins to climb as you make your way up the ridgeline. The trail will eventually lead you to a saddle in the ridge, with stunning views looking back down the gulch.
From the south, head west on Succor Creek Road 18 miles north of Jordan Valley, Oregon on Highway 95. Stay on Succor Creek road for 8.5 miles. Here, you will encounter an intersection with Succor Creek Road continuing to your left and McBride Road heading straight ahead. Make the left and continue another 1.8 miles on Succor Creek Road. Then make a left onto Leslie Gulch Road and travel 14.9 miles until you reach the trailhead. It will be a wide spot on the right side of the road, and a sign notifing you of the trail will be on the left.
From the north, head south on Highway 95 21 miles from Marsing, Idaho and make a right onto McBride Road. Follow McBride Road for 8.5 miles until you reach Succor Creek Road. Head right and travel 1.8 miles and then make a left onto Leslie Gulch Road. The trailhead will on your left, 14.9 miles until you reach the trailhead. It will be a wide spot on the right side of the road, and a sign notifing you of the trail will be on the left.
Passes: No passes are required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Open year round, but if it has rained or is wet, the roads in this area can become impassable. Also be aware of thunderstorms because flash floods in these canyons are aways a risk.