Sunday, June 29, 2014
Hike 2014.035 -- Bristlecone Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, NV
On your way here, you'd have passed the signed "Lower Bristlecone Trailhead, about .8 miles before. The trail from that point would be a road grade; during the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration put men to work building a road through the mountains. When the War broke out, the project was shelved in favor of things with higher priorities and greater national security importance.
From the upper trailhead, the trail runs along a low ridge, overlooking the base of the ski resort. Some of those runs look pretty steep!
Also lots of a purple flower that didn't photograph well, small white, fragrant flowers, something that looked like very small aster, and a few other flowers.
Descrip-tions online also mention that this trail is heavily used by all. When I started, at about 8am, I made it all the way from the upper trail-head to the junction with the Bonanza Trail. Probably saw no more than six bicyclists and a like number of hikers.
BTW, I guess I haven't mentioned why this is called the Bristlecone Loop. Yes, there are bristlecone pines, here. Lots of them. Most are healthy and green, and look nothing like you pictures bristlecone pines to look like.
But there is one ridge, maybe 1 1/2 miles from the upper trailhead, where a number of tree skeletons still stand, looking very much as you *do* expect them to look.
Incidentally, there are interpretive signs at the trailhead that tell you how to identify bristlecone pines: Their needles are in bunches of five, and they grow off in all directions from the branch, giving a sort of bottle-clearer look to the branches.
I hiked to the junction with the Bonanza Trail. The trail sign there said it was two miles back the way I came to the upper trail-head, or three miles forward to the lower trail-head. Those are approximate distances, I'm sure. The Forest Service says the full look is 6.2 miles.
I'm giving my distance covered roundtrip as four miles. It might have been a bit more, but that's what I'll go with. The remainder of the look forward didn't look that interesting, I didn't want to have to walk on pavement, and I had an engagement to make later that afternoon.