Juniper Ridge forms the heart and spirit of the Dark Divide high country. Twisting over 11 miles in a north-to-south orientation, the Juniper Ridge Trail’s sweet subalpine ribbon offers volcano views that are immediate and imposing, grabbing one’s attention for the entire journey. Verdant meadows stretch onward to the horizon. They are painted with outrageously resplendent wildflowers in the summer and autumn with the gold and vermillion adornments of the changing seasons. Allow time for lunches and summit stops. You could easily spend all day watching the glistening of glaciers on the volcanic horizons or vivid orange fritillary butterflies dancing about their namesake Mariposa lilies.
The Juniper Ridge Trail travels the spine of the Dark Divide from Dark Mountain along the Boundary Trail northward to the Tongue Mountain Trailhead at Forest Road 2904. The trail features side trails to some of the loftiest, lovely, and alluring summits in all Cascades. Most days, you will have these captivating viewscapes all to yourself. These peaks are Jumbo Peak, Sunrise Peak, Juniper Peak, and Tongue Mountain from south to north. The summit side trails are steep and sometimes exposed, but they require no technical climbing or sustained scrambling.
The Juniper Ridge Trailhead can be found on Forest Road 2904, which climbs up Cispus Road near the Cispus Learning Center. While it is a longer drive, Forest Road 2324 will take you straight up to a trailhead near the base of Sunrise Peak. This is a spectacular opportunity to do shorter forays into the heart of the Dark Divide high country.