Hey guys! Welcome to my blog on visiting the oldest trees on earth, located inside the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of California. My name is Michael Tran and I was born in a village in Vietnam. I came to the United States when I was seven years old. We grew up on a dirt floor house but I always remember the beautiful nature that surrounded us growing up.
When I was a teenager someone in our church took us camping and that reminded me of all the beautiful things I missed when I was a kid in Vietnam. From then on, I was hooked on the outdoors and was reminded that nature can give us all a sense of wonderment and amazement.
One spot that was on my nature bucket-list for many years was Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. We tried to go there two times before but it had snow. Finally, we made an effort to see all the majestic trees in California in a year: the biggest tree of California (the Giant Sequoia), the tallest tree (the Coastal Redwood) and the oldest trees (in Ancient Bristlecone).
We ended up doing the Methuselah Trail in Ancient Bristlecone to see the oldest tree in the world and it did not disappoint! Around July to September is the best time to go since the area is a bit drier then.
Longevity of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
I learned that the trees of Ancient Bristlecone can endure tremendous amounts of different conditions. Located at just under 10,000 feet, they have survived through some harsh weather and are super resilient.
Only a handful of people know the exact location of the Methuselah tree (a 4,850+ year old Great Basin bristlecone pine tree), as environmental groups don’t want too many people to find it. I think it’s pretty hard to find something so old still living today. I’m just amazed that a tree can last that long and endure so much throughout its life – it’s really inspiring!
Different Trails of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
If you have a full day and want to experience the best of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, then I recommend hiking the Methuselah Trail. It’s a 6.4 mile loop trail and is not difficult. If you want to do a quick and easy trail, the Discovery Trail is the best option. This hike is only a 1.4 mile loop trail and it has one of the most important trees in the forest to photograph.
My favorite memory from this area has to be when we just finished doing a different 6 mile backpacking trip in the nearby mountain (while carrying 30 lbs of weight on our packs). Then we came down to our truck around noon and decided that we had enough time to go see the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. We ended up doing another 6 miles, roundtrip. So in total we hiked 12 miles that day in total. It was kind of an insane day adventure!
Need to Know Before you Go
Bishop, California is an awesome town nearby if you are looking for a place to stay in the area. They just opened flights there from different cities. Bishop has all the amenities you need – restaurants, bars and shopping. I’m more of a camper, so I camped in the free and established campgrounds nearby. Although, I have stayed at a hotel in Bishop before and it was good.
The best time of year to visit Ancient Bristlecone is between June and October. The snow and ice will be gone by then and the road into the forest is open. Other than that, bring water and some snacks as the visitor center there is very limited in what it offers. Leave no trace, as always, and enjoy!