Bristlecone Pine Trail
Dixie National Forest
The Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway, U-14, is about 40 miles long, traversing Cedar Mountain and running from Cedar City to Long Valley Junction at US-89. This Utah scenic byway, lined with aspens and dotted with ancient lava rock, evergreens and wooded land crosses through Dixie National Forest, the largest national forest in Utah Fall arrives as early as September at this high elevation, transforming aspen leaves into a canvas of autumns orange, red and yellow hues stretching as far as the eye can see. The easy half-mile Bristlecone Pine Trail is located along this road - a great hike for families where you can see Zion National Park in the distance as you mingle among a grove of young Bristlecone pines.
At a Glance Day Hike: Yes Distance: Half-mile round-trip. Average Hiking Time: 30 to 60 minutes. Equipment: Comfortable hiking shoes, water, hat and other sun protection. Difficulty: Expect an easy hike on a well maintained, although uneven forest trail. Kids will enjoy this short hike, but hold young children's hands because they can, and often do, stumble on uneven hiking paths such as this that are littered with rocks and other debris of nature. Sun Exposure: Full sun except under the shade of the trees. Trail Usage: Low to moderate. Permits: Not required. Trail Conditions: Dirt, forest path lined with trees and wildflowers. Trailhead: Just off U-14 near the U-14 and U-148 junction. Look for the large pull-out immediately west of the turn-off to Cedar Breaks Trailend: Same as trailhead Trail Access: Summer is best, but you can usually get to the trail early in the fall or late in the spring even though snow levels will limit access in the winter. Best Season: Anytime the road allows access.
Elevation Change: 25 feet of undulating terrain. Off the Beaten Path: Yes
Trailhead From Cedar City - Set your odometer at the mileage sign on U-14 seen as you are leaving Cedar City. Drive 16.3 miles to the Zion Overlook and another half-mile to the Bristlecone Pine Trailhead, both of which are on the right. It is 17.8 miles to the junction of U-14 and U-148, so if you see that, then you went too far.
From Jct. U-14 and US-89 - If you are coming from Long Valley Junction, the intersection of U-14 and US-89 it is about 23 miles to the U-14 and U-148 intersection and then another half-mile past that on the left is the Bristlecone Pine Trailhead. This will be about 24 miles from Long Valley Junction. Look for the asphalted pullout on the south side of U-14 that is large enough to accommodate 6-8 vehicles. This is where you will find the wooden kiosk describing the Bristlecone pine trees and the trailhead sign.
A lazy dirt path surrounded by fields of wildflowers and trees allows you to enjoy the serene scenic stroll through the coniferous woodlands, culminating at the wooden platform overlook that provides a panoramic view of Zion National Park in the distance. A view further enhanced by crystal clear air and a fresh floral aroma permeating the air. Abundant lichens, a symbiotic plant that grows in areas with good air quality are in abundance. At the end of the trail the Bristlecone pines have taken over the space. There are young and old, but all seem to be green and thriving. Pine cones and needles litter the forest floor and wildflowers add a hue of color all around. Rare in most of the rest of the state, these seldom seen trees thrive on Cedar Mountain.
Utah's Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain
Cedar Breaks National Monument is surrounded by Utah's Dixie National Forest. From Mt. Carmel Junction, drive north on US-89 to the junction with U-14. SR-14 is known as Cedar Mountain which is the scenic byway to travel to Cedar Breaks. Once on Cedar Mountain, travel through the beautiful forest, and then turn at the signed highway to Cedar Breaks - U-148.
It's 22 miles from Mt. Carmel Junction to boundary of Dixie National Forest and 45 miles to Cedar Breaks.
Utah's Dixie National Forest: Red Canyon Red Canyon is a unique part of Dixie National Forest that is not only traveled through on the way to Bryce Canyon, but it has eroded hoodoos like Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks. It is found along U-12
Lodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.
Scientists had long considered the Bristlecone to be the oldest living thing, however, recent ideas on the subject have some researchers including vegetation that sprouts from roots such as groves of Aspen, creosote and huckleberry and perhaps other plants that form clonal colonies. Under this new definition they make even the oldest of all known Bristlecone's seem like youngsters, but i t is all about how it is defined. If you are talking about a single trunk or stem, then the Bristlecone is indeed the oldest single living organism.
Although the Bristlecone along this trail are not the oldest in the world, they have been dated to being up to 4,500 years old. These trees have adapted to living on barren slopes and cliff s. If unsure which are the ancient pines, look for needles in groups of five. The leaves will be one inch to one and half inches long. They have a thin, smooth bark, which is grayish white on young stems. As the stems age, the color becomes a reddish brown and the trunks begin to twist. The cone is tipped with long bristle seeds. A lush sub-alpine forest of quaking aspens surrounds this tranquil place, high on the mountain where the pine shows off its twisted ancient bark.
Bristlecone Pine Trailhead:
37 34.043 N
112 50.951 W
Bristlecone Pine Trailend
37 33.890 N
112 51.053 W
GPS coordinates are only references and may or may not be accurate. Do not rely on GPS coordinates as the sole method of navigation. Always have an accurate, detailed map at hand and have the proper map reading and navigation skills before setting out on any hike. Many of the hikes listed in this guide travel into canyons where a GPS has limited capabilities. Always check your position with a detailed map before dropping into a canyon.
This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean www.zionnational-park.com
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park
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