Rocky Juniper Trail
The Rocky Juniper Trail, in the Hikers’ Haven area, enters the mouth of a rocky canyon and climbs between scenic cliffs with abundant Utah juniper and good habitat for a variety of birds ranging from falcons to pinion jays. The route is within the Audubon designated Bear Canyon Important Bird Area. This is the northern limit of the range of Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma). Most juniper in the rest of the Pryors (and Montana) is Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum).
The Rocky Juniper Trail begins from Horse Haven Rd, 0.9 miles from Helt Rd. Take the left fork (north) at the 0.9 mile junction. Drive approximately 100 yards, then park. The primitive trail begins at a jackleg barrier in the mouth of the canyon. The trail begins at 5,250 ft elevation and is about 1.7 miles (one way) to where it converges with the Big Sky Trail and the Bear Canyon Creek Trail. It climbs about 500 ft elevation in this 1.7 miles.0.0 mile: Steep Rocky Beginning. A couple hundred yards beyond the barricade the track turns left (west) into a dry drainage. Then about a hundred yards farther the route turns right (north). At this point it doesn’t look like either a road or a trail. With some imagination you can see that long ago some of this route was cut by a bulldozer. The first ¼ mile is steep uphill and very rocky. About 0.3 mile: Gentler Trail. In another one or two hundred yards the route climbs out of the canyon onto flatter terrain above. The “trail” is now mostly game trails and cow paths. Follow paths nearly straight north along a shallow drainage. Don’t worry about which is the “right” path. Simply head north through the bottom of the drainage
between parallel ridges of rocky hills on the left and right (east and west). Aim for the saddle marked with the black arrow in the photo below.
About 0.9 miles: Saddle. The trail comes to a saddle. The rocky ridge on the right (east) ends with a final rocky point. A big view of Big Pryor Mountain opens to the north and east.
(One option is to consider this saddle area the hike destination and return the way you came – perhaps with a side trip to the top of one of the rocky hills. Or continue as described below.)
Continue northward from the saddle eventually contouring left (west) around the final high rocky topped hill on the left (west) ridge. (See photo). Be sure to look back at the saddle from the north so you know where to go on the return. (See photo.)
About 1.4 mile: Fence. About 1/2 mile north of the saddle is an east/west BLM/USFS boundary fence. (See map.) As you go north curving left around the hill you will find this fence – perhaps in a dense juniper forest. (Depending on where you encounter and cross the east-west fence you may find another north-south fence joining it from the south in a “T”.)
Follow the fence west as it climbs the north end of the ridge into more open grassland. Cross to the north side of the fence wherever it is convenient. From here there is a great view of Bear Canyon. Continue north down the hill (and a little west) to the edge of Bear Canyon. This is “THE Junction” (See below.)
Return Hike: Return the way you came or consider two loop hike alternatives: THE Junction is where the Big Sky, Rocky juniper and Bear Canyon creek Trails converge. You can return via either the Big Sky or Bear Canyon trails. Either loop is about 6 miles including walking back to your vehicle at the Rocky Juniper trailhead, For important directions see Bear Canyon and Hikers Haven Area Loop Hikes.