This is a pick-your-own-poison hike. You either choose to join the part of the group that turns around at Juniper Saddle, or, once you conquered Juniper Saddle, you feel like that there's still a lot left in your tank, figuratively speaking, you can venture on and join the other part of the group, and go on and conquer the Needle.
Turning around at Juniper Saddle is about 6 miles round trip, with approximately 2500' elevation gain.
With steep climbing, Juniper Saddle hike itself should be rated somewhere from medium to difficult.
If you ever ponder about climbing the Needle, and being daunted by the massiveness of the hike, climbing Juniper Saddle could help you self evaluate your physical prowess.
The Needle will only add another mile of distance beyond Juniper Saddle, so the round trip will be totaled 8 miles. But, within that one mile distance, the elevation gain is way over 1000', and that steepness makes a huge difference. And then there's that one spot of class 4 climbing.
Juniper Saddle will take about 5-7 hours, while the Needle takes about 7-9 hours.
Meet us at Milagro Coffee at 7:30am for carpool or at La Cueva picnic area parking lot at 8:00am.