The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is one of California’s many gems. Here in the xeric alpine environment, some of the oldest non-clonal living organisms thrive. The Visitor Center is located next to Schulman Grove, home to the Methuselah tree, the oldest tree alive until the discovery of one slightly older in the area.
Two trails lead out of the Visitor Center, a one miler, Discovery Trail, and four miler, Methuselah Trail. It was fairly windy and cold at 9,200 feet. We started on the Methuselah Trail but soon found that it was covered in snow, and pretty icy. Since we’d started the day in the Volcanic Tablelands before heading to Sierra View, we opted to take the Discovery Trail to not run out of daylight while dealing with snow.
The Discovery Trail had no snow to be found, and we soon found ourselves ascending up the mountain past bristlecone pines. The trail takes you up close and personal with some majestic, larger than life bristlecone pine trees. At the end of the hike, the Discovery Trail gradually drops you down a scree slope back to the visitor center.
This trail is well-graded, maintained and family friendly. Benches line the trail every couple hundred feet or so. Elevation gain is around 330 feet. This hike is a sweet, easy day-hike out of Bishop or Big Pine. It’s great if you’re short on time but still want to pack a lot into your day.