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.
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
Due note 4: There is no
gas, food, water, or cell phone service available at the top or along the
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.
Where else in
the world can you take a hike through a forest filled with the Earth's oldest
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
where these ancients live are rugged, steep, and are not visited by humans, so,
these trees have lived almost undisturbed for 5 millennia.
age was discovered in 1953 and the findings were reported in National
Geographic and worldwide attention was brought to the White Mountains.
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.
leading up the White Mountain ridge is steep and winding most of the way.
As you climb up
the pines 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.
Soon after this
viewpoint you will get into the protected 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 Patriarch Grove.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
From the Forest
Visitor Center at 9,846 feet, open annually from mid-May through November, there
are 2 main hiking trails:
is the shortest, 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 Methuselach 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
Parking for the
grove is at the end of the Bristlecone Pine Forest Scenic Byway at 11,000 ft. elevation.
The section from the visitor center (13 miles) is unpaved.
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, but it can be slow and difficult going for a light