Lee Peak from Upper Bristlecone Trail

South Sister from Upper Bristlecone Trail

Painted Horse next to Lee Canyon Road

Lee Peak, Tall Ponderosa and Ski Slopes at Trailhead

Upper Bristlecone Trail has always been a favorite of the club's and of mine. It is well-maintained, has ample parking and is well-traveled on the weekends if you so desire to do an ill advised solo hike. It is also gorgeous with the limestone / dolomite rock, semi-old growth bristlecones and a large aspen grove to wander through. Today, twenty hikers arrived to do the 5 mile out and back hike from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead to the Bonanza Trail junction. After the previous four days of rain, the trail was washed and smelled wonderful! The air was still full of humidity but the temperature was deliciously cool and we couldn't stop exclaiming to that effect!

Having Fun with 20 Hikers

We parked above the Ski Lee entrance and below the helipad. The rangers have finally given up trying to convince visitors to not park on the helipad and have roped off the whole circle.

Turn in the Trail

We started up between the fence railings and headed into the aspens. Our pace was slow as we enjoyed our morning out.

Well Maintained Trail

Front Group waiting for Back Group

Every so often, the group stopped to let the last hikers catch up. They weren't far behind and there was plenty of shade to accommodate us in the first mile of the hike. At the 1 mile mark of the hike, we stopped at the junction of No Name Trail that turns off to the left. After a good rest, we continued up to the overlook – a pointed turn on the top of a trailing ridge where there are great views of Mummy Mountain and South Sister. Today's hikers were curious about some of these more difficult hikes. The section after this is, perhaps, the most beautiful of the Bristlecone Trail. Even though the trail becomes more uneven, the beauty abounds!

Gorgeous Terrain

BTW, the Las Vegas Grasshopper Invasion of 2019 has not reached the high elevations of the Spring Mountains. Hopefully, the hoards of little critters will find enough to do on the Las Vegas Strip and not need to go hiking! (We'll see.) 👀

Mummy Mountain from approach to Overlook

The trail wound in and out of the natural terrain of ridges and steep slopes. Finally we connected to the forest road that continues down to the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead.

Watch your Step!

Down the Short Steep Slope

There is a steep slippery hill here but it is short. We carefully made our way down and on to the Bonanza Trail junction. My first observation was that they have placed a new information sign here at the junction. Someone said that it must have been erected just the day before. The sign talks about the Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly. The butterflies' habitat includes a large amount of acreage around the Bristlecone Trail and the Bonanza Trail. In fact, the fence railings at the start of the Upper Bristlecone were erected around ten years ago to protect the little dime-sized flutterers. We stopped here for our break. There were a few hikers coming down the Bonanza switchbacks while we talked.

Brand New Signage about Mt. Charleston Blue Butterflies

After several minutes, we started back. Gray clouds were growing over Mummy Mountain but they didn't seem like they would become a threat to us.

Finding Shade at the Bonanza Trail Junction

We hiked up the steep short hill then noticed purple thistles on the side of the trail. Large moths were buzzing around them doing a really good impression of hummingbirds! Yes, they were Hummingbird Hawk Moths feeding at Scotch Thistles!

Hummingbird Hawk Moth at Scotch Thistle

Long Line on Return

We hiked the 2.5 miles back down to the cars slowly but with only a couple of breaks. It's mostly downhill! Conversation continued and we passed many other weekend hikers who had traveled up the mountain for a cool respite and, perhaps, to get away from the grasshoppers! A lovely hike on a lovely day with lovely people! Great day, everyone! (And, thanks Ron, for a few extra photos that I missed!)
5 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3 hours; average moving speed 1.6 mph

Climbing back up to the High Point

Descending from the Overlook

Back through the Aspens and Fence Railings