Many of us love getting outdoors, some more than others. And one way to truly get in touch with nature is to put on your hiking boots and hit the trail. However, not all of us are avid hikers and prefer a more leisurely stroll through the wilderness. If you make your way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, you will want to go to the Bristlecone Loop trail.
The Bristlecone Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon is approximately 1.3 miles, which converts to just over 2 kilometers, and it is a round-trip. You can finish this trail in under 30 minutes if you move briskly, but if you truly take in the environment, you are looking at closer to 45 minutes.
- Distance: 1.3 miles or 2 kilometers and is a round-trip.
- Estimated Hiking Time: 45 minutes.
- Elevation: 121 feet or 36 meters.
- Difficulty: Easy
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Unpacking The Bristlecone Loop Trail And Other Options
One of the unfortunate things about the Bristlecone Loop is that although many people head to Sunrise and Sunset Points, fewer people drive through the park to reach Rainbow Point, where the trail starts. It is understandable as the drive is a bit long, but it is undoubtedly worth it at the end of the day.
Those who take the time to drive the entire length of the Bryce Canyon National Park to the southernmost point (Rainbow Point) can decide between two separate trails. One of these is the Bristlecone Loop Trail, which is primarily level and sans extreme ascents and descents and takes you through magnificent forests of spruce and fir trees and gives you a view of the many hoodoos.
The other option is the 8.5 mile or just over 13 kilometers which is a loop to Riggs Spring and is not traversed as often and usually takes two days to travel, and there is a night spent at one of three campsites along the way. So, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can make the necessary preparations and choose to do this trail instead.
However, the Bristlecone Loop Trail is a much easier hike and includes Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point. You are adorned with spectacular views at each of these fantastic vantage points. Additionally, you will note the many Bristlecone Pines for which the loop received its name on your journey.
You will not receive the same splendorous experience as some other parts of the park, but you will have a fair amount of fun. If you are interested in gaining even more spectacular views, we recommend heading to the Queens Garden and the Navajo Loop Trail.
About The Bristlecone Loop Trail
This short loop is intended for the casual hiker; it stays above the canyon rim and allows you to traverse through the bristlecone pine forests, which are found more commonly here than along any of the other trails in the Bryce Canyon National Park.
If you are curious about flora, you will like to note how to identify these pines, which is by their foxtail tufts of needles that grow on the tips of the limbs of the branches. Along the path, you may note that some of the trees seem quite battered; however, do not be concerned as the trees can withstand high windy ridges and even survive prolonged periods of drought.
When you start the trail, you will note that the first half a mile descends slightly as you head southeast. When you reach the 0.2-mile mark of the path, you can take a right; this is the fastest route to reach Yovimpa Point, but we recommend going straight along the steep cliffsides to gain the best possible views.
Upon reaching the 0.3-mile point, the trail intersects with the Riggs Spring and the Under the Rim Trail. These are far more challenging routes, and you do not want to divert from your current path, so keep on and stay along the Bristlecone Loop Trail. The trail will continue until it reaches the southeasternmost point at 0.6-miles, and just before you get here, you begin to ascend.
The Level Of Difficulty For The Bristlecone Loop Trail
The trail has a packed dirt surface, and there are barely any obstacles, except for a few smaller rocks here and there. Although it is not wheelchair friendly, an elderly or disabled person who struggles to walk or is assisted by a cane will manage this trail.
Preparing For The Bristlecone Loop Trail At Bryce Canyon
As we have seen, the hike is a very short one, and the temperatures experienced in Bryce Canyon are typically mild. So you will not need to pack too much in the way of supplies; however, there are certain things that we recommend you consider taking along for the hike.
The first of these is water, as the altitude of 9,000 feet can cause one to tire quickly, and hydrating will prevent headaches and altitude sickness. The next thing you want to bear in mind is the type of footwear you choose to put on; you do not need hiking boots, but closed-toe shoes with a decent grip are highly recommended. And finally, do not forget to pack sunscreen and a hat.
Aspects Of Bristlecone Loop Trail That We Find Appealing
The views are heavenly, and if you are hoping to encourage friends or family to get into hiking, this is an excellent trail, to begin with. They will find it easy enough and thoroughly enjoy the splendorous views on offer.
As mentioned, it is easy, and it will not take too much time to complete; even if you stop to smell the flowers now and then, you’ll be done in under 45 minutes. Suppose you are on your way somewhere else; consider stopping in to do the hike to stretch your legs before continuing with your trip.
The views are one thing, but another component of the Bristlecone Loop Trail is that it is filled with spectacular fauna and flora; you are sure to spot wildlife such as birds and even the odd squirrel or two. The color contrasts are stunning and will leave you feeling a sense of serenity.
Pleasant, quick, and accessible. You can also embark on other hikes, which will take you longer, and some will require more significant planning and preparations. Still, the Bristlecone Loop Trail is a beautiful, time-efficient way of getting out into nature and really soaking it in quickly. Additionally, it is suitable for the whole family, so young and old alike can embark on this excursion.