GPS: N36° 18′ 23.8386″ - W115° 40′ 41.4588″ (WGS 84)
The Bristlecone Trail starting point is know as the Upper Bristlecone Trail. It is located a the very end of the Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156). Take US 95 toward Reno, pass the Mountain Charleston turn-off continuing straight for 10 miles, make a left on Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156), follow it until it ends. It trailhead starts in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, where the turnaround or helicopter landing pad is located. This hike will take you 2-3 hours to complete, depending on stops and breaks. The trail is clearly marked and you will notice a fence on either side of the trail for the first quarter of a mile. This was installed to protect some sensitive plants for butterflies. The first part of the trail is lined with Ponderosa Pine, Aspens, and further near the summit are the Bristlecone Pines. The hike offers great views of Lee Canyon and the surrounding area. Even with 105°+ temperatures in Las Vegas the mountain offer a cool escape from the dreaded heat.
Warnings: This hike starts out at 8,600 feet and reaches an altitude of 9,381 feet. So if you just came up from the valley desert floor, be prepared for some heaving breathing. Also, beware that there are mountain bikers on the trails, so watch out. The dirt road portion of the hike (last 4 miles) is quite wide and has room for everyone and has a gentle slope.
The full loop back to the parking lot is just under 6 miles. The hardest part is the first 2 miles. Once pass the summit, it is a gentle slope to the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead. A final small hike along the roadside for 1/2 mile will bring you back your starting place. This hike is not a difficult hike – just a little long and a lot of breathing for the first 2 miles. Have fun, bring water and be safe.
Update: This trail is great to hike anytime in the summer to get away from the scorching heat of the lower desert floor. But as a reminder, and if you time it right, try to hike it around September 21 and you may catch the Aspens in their golden and reddish Autumn colors before they are discarded to the forest floor.
Lee Canyon – Bristlecone Trail – Click for hi-res photo
View 360° Panoramic of the Bristlecone TrailHead
Base of Las Vegas Ski & Snow Resort – Summer
View 360° Panoramic of the Las Vegas Ski and Snow Resort
Photos by: LasVegas360.com