The Bristlecone Trail is located at the upper end of Lee Canyon. It is a popular trail for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Keep in mind that visitors with stock have the right-of-way, and always be on the lookout for hikers and horses.
This trail passes through groves of bristlecone pines - the worlds oldest living organism. Although the oldest known bristlecone pine is located in the White Mountains of California, many of these trees are several thousand years old. On exposed mountain slopes the tree takes on a characteristic stunted-and-twisted growth form.
Starting at the Lower Bristlecone Trail parking lot allows you to ascend a nice graded gravel road. It is a sustained three mile climb and the elevation can make things fairly difficult for some.
Trail elevation: 8,680 feet to 9,400 feet
The trail begins with a steady climb following a wide and abandoned Works Progress Administration (WPA) road. The road continues for about 3 miles and passes through a small grove of aspen while climbing up toward the bristlecone pines. The trail eventually curves around, levels out a bit and provides a nice view of the nearby Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard. While you are still on the graded road the trail eventually passes the junction with the Bonanza Trail - be sure to stay on the bristlecone trail as bikes are not allowed on the Bonanza Trail, plus you will be going the wrong way.
Shortly after passing the Bonanza Trail junction, the road will narrow and turn into single track full of twists and turns. The upper portion of the single track is technical and somewhat rough, the middle portion fast and smooth, more rough and rocky is found near the bottom, and the very end returns to fast and smooth although bordered by handrails. You will descend through white fir, ponderosa pine and quaking aspen, eventually ending in a parking lot adjacent to the ski area. Ride downhill through the parking lot, continuing on the paved road until you reach the gravel road which will return you to the trailhead.
From Las Vegas:
Drive north on highway 95 towards Tonopah/Reno. 14 miles after passing highway 157 (Kyle Canyon Road) turn left at highway 156 (Lee Canyon Road) and drive approximately 16.5 miles. Turn right onto the gravel road (Scout Canyon Road) about 150 feet before the McWilliams Campground to reach the trailhead.