Summary: This trail begins in a nicely forested area with white fir and large aspen, and climbs until you reach the rugged, exposed upper slopes with bristlecone pines. The trail is easy to follow for both hikers and bikes, with many spots along the trail to stop and admire the view. Be sure and look up at the ski slopes in Lee Canyon, you will often see wild horses grazing on the grass in late spring, summer, and fall. In my opinion, this is one of the easiest and most enjoyable hikes in the Spring Mtns. for beginners; not many steep climbs, nice views, plenty of trees, and the trail is very visible and can be easily followed, even with snow patches. The flexibility of this trail can be appreciated by all levels of hikers; tailor the hike to the type of terrain you enjoy. Instead of taking the upper and lower loop, I prefer to retrace this upper trail a few times until reaching the desired amount of exercise. Plenty of lunch spots along the trail, but no water to hike to.
Trailhead: I-15 N from Las Vegas to 95 N towards Reno, W on SR 156 (Lee Canyon) 17 1/4 miles into Lee Canyon until the road dead ends in the upper parking lot of Lee Canyon Ski Area. Do NOT park on the helipad for emergency helicopters. The trailhead for the upper or West Bristlecone trail is located in this parking lot. This trail is described as an out and back for the upper Bristlecone only (4 miles RT); however, combining the lower (east) Bristlecone and making a loop trail makes this a 6 mile RT. This also becomes a connector trail to the Bonanza trail. Bikes can do the upper/lower loop, but are not allowed on Bonanza trail. Horses must use the lower Bristlecone, and can continue on the Bonanza trail which eventually goes all the way to Cold Creek. Hikers and dogs are allowed on all of these trails. The upper trail is mostly under trees, while the lower Bristlecone is a wide, gravel road (abandoned WPA road). Both trails offer nice views of surrounding peaks. (Lat:36.30655 Lon:-115.67792)
Trail Guides for Upper (west) Bristlecone Trail:
USFS free trail guide handout for Spring Mtns (pickup at visitor center Kyle Canyon)
by Spring Mountains Natl Rec Area (USFS and USFWS)
Hiking Around Las Vegas
by Jim Boone (Jim L. Boone)
120 Best Hikes in Southern Nevada and Beyond (CD)
by Branch Whitney (Branch Whitney)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes,
Ranger Contact: USFS - Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, Spring Mtns. NRA (702) 515-5400 emerg (702) 872-5306
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Kat Green, who has posted 86 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by JJ on 8/27/2011
Trail maps no longer free. Nominal fee. I want to say 25 cents. Very nice trail. Beautiful views. Very busy on weekends.
Reviewed by D&R on 6/24/2009
It was beautiful up there..Trail well maintained
Reviewed by Todd on 6/20/2006
The best way to hike this trail, I think, is as a loop. I recommend parking at the Lower Bristlecone trailhead and then walking up the paved road, past the ski area, to the Upper Bristlecone TH. About midway through the loop, you will reach the Bonanza TH. I suggest taking the Bonanza spur for about one mile, up a series of switchbacks to a nice lunch spot with excellent views. Then return on Lower Bristlecone--a very easy return trip along an old WPA road to your waiting vehicle.
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