Monday, July 18, 2011

Bristlecone Loop - 7/18/11

The Bristlecone Loop Trail is located at the end of Highway 156 or Lee Canyon Highway. The Upper trailhead leaves from the heliport near the ski area. The Lower trailhead is found approximately 100 feet down the road from the McWilliams Campground. It is most pleasant to hike the trail in a counter- clockwise direction leaving from the Upper trailhead and walking down the road to the Lower trailhead. This is what twenty hikers in the club did today.

Bristlecone Loop Trail is the only trail in the Spring Mountains accessible to mountain bikes. It offers scenic views of Lee Canyon Ski Area, Mummy Mountain, and serene aspen groves in addition to the many bristlecone trees that line the trail in the higher elevations. As we started up the gravel road from the Lower trailhead, we could see South Sister Peak beyond the trees.

We wound our way around a long switchback and came to the Bonanza Trail junction after 4 easy miles. Here, we found a spot in the shade to rest and eat a snack. The day was warm except when two separate cool breezes tried to blow us off the trail!

After the trail junction, the Bristlecone Trail changes from being an old abandoned gravel road to a woodland foot trail. This is the most scenic section as there are views of a few peaks. The trees are beautiful and the rock is light gray in color. Flowers painted the landscape as well.

As we got down to the stands of aspens, within a half mile of the Upper trailhead, movement to our left caught Marg's attention. Sure enough, up on the hillside within the trees were three mares and a filly. Wild horses, for sure. They quietly and calmly continued eating the grass from the ground while we excitedly snapped our photos and exclaimed at how lucky we felt to get to see them. Although we learned that it isn't that uncommon to see a small herd of horses somewhere near the ski area, it was a first for most of the hikers in the group. "Happy trails to you!"

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