Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Update - I revisit this place during Oct. 2021
I went to 
Methuselah Grove, Patriarch Grove and Hiked to the summit of White Mountain Peak (14300 ft)

See new blogs for more information:


What? : The oldest living tree on our planet, more than 5,000 years old.

Not only Bristlecone Pine Forest are the oldest trees or organisms alive, but they are beautiful trees, many millennials of wind, snow and sun form those magnificent, twisted trees.


Where? : Located deep at the White Mountain ridge, of the Inyo National Forest, east of Bishop. From Big Pine take state Route 168 East. Follow the road for 13 miles then turn left onto White Mountain Rd. 10 miles further up the winding road and you will arrive at the Schulman Grove Visitor Center.

Google Map Link


When? : During the winter month when snow cover the road leading up to White Mountain ridge the site is not accessible.


Due note 1: Camping nearby in Grandview campground is an excellent way to spend the night, 5 miles away from the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. At this 8,600-foot elevation campground there are 23 campsites, available on a first-come-first-served basis.


Due note 2: The sight is above 10,000f of elevation, if anyone in your group complains of a headache, dizziness, nausea or appears to be disoriented leave the area immediately and return to a lower elevation.


Due note 3: Road 168 east climb from Owens Valley into mountain pass, the road is narrow and at one point it squeezes into a narrow passage between 2 cliffs, at this section it is one car only so drive carefully.


Due note 4: There is no gas, food, water, or cell phone service available at the top or along the route.


Due note 5: Motorhomes are not recommended on unpaved roads.


Due note 6: Schulman Grove and Patriarch Grove are day use only, closed from 10pm to 6am.


My thoughts: I want to visit this for long time and manage to do so only recently (2020), amazing trees in an isolated place. I’m sure I will visit here again. I was short on time so I went only to the Methuselah Grove near the visitor center, next time I will drive all the way to Patriarch Grove.


The visit:


Where else in the world can you take a hike through a forest filled with the Earth's oldest trees?

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is the oldest ever discovered tree, oldest living organisms on our planet.


The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine grows between 9,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level in a habitat that is essentially inhospitable to most other life. The white, alkaline rocky soil, low temperature, blowing wind and snow create the ideal habitat for the trees and the lack of surrounding ground vegetation also reduces the risk of fires.

The mountains where these ancients live are rugged, steep, and are not visited by humans, so, these trees have lived almost undisturbed for 5 millennia.

Their long-live age was discovered in 1953 and the findings were reported in National Geographic and worldwide attention was brought to the White Mountains.


The oldest tree, yet unnamed, is believed to be 5,070 years old now. This individual tree began life at about the same time humans began to develop the concept of writing, it was about 500 years old when the pyramids at Giza were built, Mind-Blowing!



From Big Pine take state Route 168 East. Follow the road for 13 miles then turn left onto White Mountain Rd. from this point getting to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest requires a half an hour drive on a good, paved road.

The road leading up the White Mountain ridge is steep and winding most of the way.

As you climb up the pine trees are getting smaller and at some point, they stop growing. 8.7 miles from hwy 168, high at the mountain ridge you will find a small viewing point to the west, overlooking Owens Valley, excellent place to stop and enjoy the view.

Soon after this viewpoint you will get into the protected forest area.

Stop at the visitor center for your visit at this groove, from this point there is additional 13 miles drive on an unpaved road to additional old trees location, Patriarch Grove.


Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center

From the Forest Visitor Center at 9,846 feet, open annually from mid-May through November, there are 2 main hiking trails:

Discovery Trail is the shortest and the recomended, about a mile long, that will take you to the section near the main road, you will find amazing trees along this trail.

A longer option is Methuselah Walk, this 4.5-miles hike loops through the Methuselah Grove where, unmarked to protect its identity, lives Methuselah, now 4,850 years old. There are spectacular vistas looking out eastward over Nevada’s basin-and-range region


Patriarch Grove:

This is the remote section of the old trees, parking for this forest grove is at the end of the Bristlecone Pine Forest Scenic Byway at 11,000 ft. elevation. The road section from the visitor center to Patriarch Grove is unpaved but well maintained 13 mil dirt road.

Patriarch Grove where the biggest of the ancient bristlecones, the Patriarch, lives. The area has two short loops of less than a mile each with interpretive signage along the way and a vault toilet.

The road to this groove is maintained, if you are coming with passenger car and driving slow you can make it.

See another blog post about visiting Patriarch Grove:

White Mountains Summit Hike
For detailed description on my White Mountains Summit Hike (14,300 ft) during the autumn of 2021 read this blog: