Distance: 1 mile (loop)
Best time of year: Summer, Fall
Last hiked: 2015 October
The Bristlecone Loop is probably the easiest trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s located at the very end of the main road in the south end of the park, and over the course of a one mile loop brings you past a 1,600 year old bristlecone pine tree.
The trail starts along the canyon rim at Rainbow Point and follows the rim northward a short distance before winding into the ponderosa pine forest with the ground blanketed in manzanita. The crowd noise of the overlook fades away and the trail gradually descends a small amount of elevation until you come to an overlook where there’s even a small gazebo with information about the area inside. With outstanding views now to the east, the trail climbs back up and at another fantastic overlook winds you past the bristlecone pines. A small display explains the ancient tree with more great views opposite.
The trail continues through the forest, back up to Rainbow Point, with an optional detour to head to Yovimpa Point along the way back.
From the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center, drive south on the main drive for 17 miles. Park at the Rainbow Point parking area where the road dead ends and look for the trailhead to the south of Rainbow Point.