Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bristlecone Loop - 7/16/16

Lower Bristlecone Trail

Lee Peak and Mt. Charleston from the Bonanza Trail Junction

Upper Bristlecone Trail

Starting Up the Forest Road of Lower Bristlecone
Starting with sixteen and adding one hiker within the first mile of the hike, we began at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead where the parking was already at a premium. Found near the end of Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA, this trailhead is serviced by a short dirt road that turns off to the right just after you pass the long meadow (with the wild horses) on the right. We hiked up the forest road that is the Lower Bristlecone Trail. At the first stop to regather at the end of a hairpin turn (Pine Cone Canyon junction), we turned to find a late hiker come speeding up the trail!

Shaded Section of the Lower Bristlecone Trail
 The seventeen hikers then continued up the forest road enjoying a stretch of intermittent shade. The pace was a pleasant moderate climb.

North Loop Ridge Peaks coming into View
 Surprisingly, there were very many trail runners that passed us going either direction throughout the hike. Maybe that explains the large number of cars at the trailhead.

View Back to South and North Sisters

 We stopped a second time in a large bit of shade where we overlooked the campgrounds below. Mountain views included Charleston Peak, Lee Peak, Mummy Mountain, and South and North Sisters. There was a very nice cool breeze blowing on the sun drenched trail as we continued along the forest road to the Bonanza Trail junction. The Bonanza Trail is a cross country trail that turns off to the right and leads along the Spring Mountain Divide ridge for 15 miles ending at Cold Creek, NV.

Break at the Bonanza Trail Junction
 We found some shade at the junction and took our snack break. Conversations were flowing.

Heading for the High Point

Beautiful Upper Bristlecone Trail
 After the break, we continued along the forest road for a short distance then the road turned into a single track trail. This section is the real beauty of the Bristlecone Trail. The pace slowed a bit as hikers took in the scenery. The mountainside is covered with young bristlecones and accentuated by gray limestone rock. Our next stop was scheduled for the overlook at a sharp turn but there was another group of hikers that got there first. We continued down the trail after a brief Plan B output.

Circling the Contours on the Upper Bristlecone Trail
 Upper Bristlecone Trail runs between the Bonanza Trail junction and the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead. This is a mostly shaded trail as opposed to the Lower Bristlecone forest road trail.

South Sister towers over the Trail
 Our next stop to regather was the No Name Trail junction. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the pace and stops that we were making approximately every 1 mile.

Starting the Drop to the Overlook Turn

Continuing to the No Name Junction
 From this point, the trail dives into a large aspen grove. We passed more and more recreational hikers and their dogs. We stopped one last time at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and noted the new paint job that the heliport recently received. Maybe the new white lines will keep people from parking there! The last part of the hike followed the road down to the Lower Bristlecone parking lot. This was a very enjoyable hike on a beautiful day.

6 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Hiking through the Aspens

New Paint on the Heliport

Busy Saturday at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead

This graph depicts the same hike starting at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead.

This graph depicts the same hike starting at the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead.

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