Bryce Canyon Bristlecone Loop Trail
Overview: A short loop that stays entirely above the canyon rim as it traverses a subalpine fir forest. The trail is named after the bristlecone pine trees, the oldest tree species in the world, which is found more frequently along this trail than along other trails in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km) loop
Hiking time: About 0.5 hour
Best season: April–October
Topo maps: USGS Rainbow Point; Trails Illustrated Bryce Canyon National Park
Finding the trailhead: From the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, drive 16.8 miles south to Rainbow Point. Follow the sidewalk to the southeast side of the parking lot to the Bristlecone Loop trailhead sign. An additional trailhead sign is located to the left of the restrooms.
Trailhead GPS: 37.475176, -112.240151
This short loop stays entirely above the canyon rim as it traverses a subalpine fir forest. The trail is named after the bristlecone pine, which is found more frequently along this trail than along other trails in Bryce Canyon National Park. Bristlecone pine can be identified by the foxtail tufts of needles growing at the tips of its limbs. It can survive on high, windy ridges and can weather prolonged periods of drought. Due to its tenacity the bristlecone pine has a tremendous lifespan. A California specimen has been dated at more than 4,500 years old.
From the trailhead the path winds southeast through dense stands of white fir, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine. The path loops out to the cliffs and the canyon rim. Bristlecone pines grow atop the open, windy cliffs along the rim. As the trail returns to Rainbow Point, it intersects the Under the Rim Trail. Trail signs along the route direct hikers back to the starting point.