Upper and Lower Bristlecone Loop is a 5.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Las Vegas, Nevada that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.7 miles Elevation Gain: 931 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

views

wildlife

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 road dead ends in upper pkg. lot for Lee Canyon Ski Area. Do NOT park on helipad for flight for life (signed) ! Trailhead for upper Bristlecone is located at upper end of parking lot. Note that horses cannot access trail from this point. Park horse trailers in large gravel parking area (signed) BEFORE McWilliams campground. You can ride horses up the lower Bristlecone Trail and meet this loop at the Bonanza trail turn (signed, 3 mi.up lower trail- will add 1 mile overall to hike) -- take the turn onto Bonanza trail and follow switchbacks to top (signed); look for turn BEFORE the wooden steps up the hill. When you exit the hike at the ski area pkg, you'll need to ride alongside the paved road back down to main horse trailer parking (gravel lot). If hiking instead of riding, begin & end at upper trailhead and follow loop as shown for this route.

Relatively easy hike. We started at lower bristlecone and completed the loop in about 2 hours. A lot of dogs on the trail and kids too! At this time of year it was a little cool especially in the shaded areas when you stop hiking. Great views!!! Saw a few wild horses on the way up to trail and some beautiful wildflowers.

I prefer parking at Lower and walking up to ski resort and starting at Upper. Upper is just beautiful and then a nice jog down Lower. It’s a fire road but views still nice. Memorial weekend it was quite busy.

hiking
15 days ago

I started at the Lower Bristlecone trailhead and went counter clockwise because the Upper one is still closed even through the area is now open. The first 2 or so miles is a gravel road. The views are still beautiful, but it’s not really a trail. Once the lower trail section connects to the upper section, it becomes an actual trail through the forest. Gorgeous mountain views!

hiking
17 days ago

nice trail with dog!

Hiked this loop by parking at the lower trailhead and walking up the road to the upper trailhead. I preferred the Upper Bristlecone portion of the trail as it was in the trees and shaded, not to mention peaceful and beautiful. The views are amazing from the Lower Bristlecone portion, however the trail there is actually a gravel road bed and pretty exposed.

mountain biking
25 days ago

This is by far one of my favorites on the mountain! To either bike or hike it gives you what your soul need to recharge in these trying times. This hike refills my hope and love tank so I can power through my days at work. It lifts my heart and soul to be in the mountain and this trail checks all the boxes; fun, Strenuous, well defined trail and amazing views which makes for excellent photo ops. Great for first times!

Loved this hike! We chose to go Lower to Upper Bristlecone. Upper Bristlecone has some snow still throughout but if you have the map you can navigate the trail (and follow footprints- the snow was only about knee deep in some spots) It would be good to have proper shoes with a nice grip to navigate the snowy sections.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

COVID trail number 13. We intended to hike down the Bonanza Trail for a Ways and come back. But there was too much snow on the trail still so we did the bristlecone loop twice. There was a lot of sections with Snow on the Bristlecone as well, but it was definitely passible. It will probably be gone in a week. This is still one of my favorite trails in all of Las Vegas.

So glad this was open all the way through. Snow at the top and basically 75% of the upper portion. If you have poles it’s not that hard. Lots of snow melt. Packed by 11AM

hiking
icy
snow
1 month ago

Attempted this loop today, starting with the Lower Bristlecone. I was unable to complete the loop and had to turn back about 3.5 miles in, along with everyone else on the trail today. About .5 into the Upper Bristolecone part (coming from Lower) the snow was about waist deep! with no trail in sight. The weather was perfect, there was just too much soft snow. There was tons more snow on the portion I did complete, but it was doable. Sometimes your feet would sink 1.5 ft down so although i had waterproof hiking boots, the snow was deep enough to get my high socks wet and ice fell down into my boots. not a huge deal, but if you have proper snow gear for your feet/pants- i would recommend! Beautiful hike for the portion i did. will definitely come back.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

What an amazing hike. Besides the length of the trail this is an easy hike. Great trail the hike way unless it was covered by snow but the app keeps you on course.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

It was a beautiful day and I was first one to make the loop. I would recommend snow shoes if you have them. Walking sticks Minimally.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

snowshoeing
snow
4 months ago

Great for snowshoeing! Bring poles because there may be some slanted sections and there is at least one steep downhill.

hiking
5 months ago

Bristlecone Trail is one of our favorite hikes off Lee Canyon that do not involve a steep climb or a summit. There are some parts on the trail that are on an incline, but it isn't as tough as Trail Canyon, Griffith Peak, or Charleston Peak. Bristlecone Trail can be started from either the Lower or Upper Trailhead. Starting at the Upper Trailhead is easier since there's less hills to climb and the hike starts off in shade. The trail is marked well and easy to follow. Like I stated earlier, there's no peak but the views are gorgeous, especially when there's still some snow on the mountains. The distance from Upper Bristlecone to Lower Bristlecone is about 6 miles or 7 miles if you decide to complete the loop. This hike does get busy and the parking spaces do get full by both trailheads. Watch out for mountain bikers and be on the lookout for the wild horses. They're beautiful. The horse are, not the bikers.

hiking
6 months ago

never do the lower. 3 miles of road. A good hike is up the upper, at least 1 mile up Banana for some great views east AND west from a bristlecone scattered ridge and back down the upper trail. Six miles round-trip if you do the one mile on bananza would give that a 5.

hiking
7 months ago

moderate in the sense of length. great hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Started at the upper trail and ended at the lower trailhead. I would suggest that , as it gets easier the last miles which is always nice. some awesome views of of the mountains. saw some wild horses!

hiking
7 months ago

Cool trail! If it wasn’t for the graded section I would of given it 5 ☆.

hiking
8 months ago

Excellent trail conditions, beautiful scenery. Moderate effort for those who don’t hike very often. Saw mules, horses and other small critters.

Really lovely hike.

Great loop but very sun exposed the first 2-3 miles of lower bristlecone so afternoon hikers beware!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Easy trail for experienced hikers. The earlier you start, the fewer people on the trail. Great views. Parked at upper trailhead then walked down to lower trailhead and walked the loop counterclockwise. The lower loop is a gravel road. Lots of people with dogs and bikes. Once at the upper trail, it actually turns into a trail. At that point, it’s not suitable for strollers or novice mountain bikers. 906’ climb (8586’ to 9457’) from start to finish; 6.3 miles in 2hrs 25 min with a few stops for pics.

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful, and amazing temp! Really chill and easy walk.

hiking
11 months ago

We hiked this trail on July 3rd in a big snow year (2019). I would have rated it 5 stars except for the street connector. We started from the lower lot and went counterclockwise which is the reverse of this trail description. I would recommend doing the reverse route, but parking at the upper lot and doing the street connector first. The uphill slog on Lower Bristlecone is a boring slog, but gives you great views from 1.8 miles up to the Lower/Old/Upper Bristlecone fork at 3.1 miles. A great excuse to rest while taking Scenic Pictures/Selfies! Most of this part of the trail is a fire/access road where you can hike 2 or 3 abreast. At about the 3.5 mile mark, the route narrows and become a trail that is much more scenic and interesting (and shady). It continues uphill to the 3.75 mile mark where it levels until the viewpoint, where it starts downhill. After the 2nd junction with the lower Bristlecone trail it descents more steeply. This was my favorite part of the trail, if also more crowded. I wish there was some runoff or snow, but unfortunately it was totally dry! The best part of this hike is the 70 to 80 degree temperatures, on a day when it was 104 in Vegas. I should warn that the trail peaks at over 9400 feet, so novice hikers who don't know their susceptibility to altitude should take extra water and stay aware of headaches and nausea. Head down at the first symptoms and stay safe!

hiking
11 months ago

Nice trail and hike for those wanting to escape the heat on the valley floor. 104 today in Vegas, 75 up on the mountain. We did the trail counterclockwise as the reviews said doing it clockwise would be in the sun for the accent. We started at 2pm and were done by 4. Upper Bristlecone is more narrow mountain trail hiking while lower is more of a dirt road. Still great views thru out the hike. No snow anymore

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

Awesome trail!! We started at upper bristlecone trailhead and made our way to lower bristlecone trailhead. Definitely got a work out going up and down the hills. This trail is definitely for the seasoned hiker. Amazing views and lots of beautiful flowers during the spring time. No cellphone reception!! As always make sure you bring plenty of water and lots of snacks! Happy Hiking Everyone!

hiking
11 months ago

Finished in just about 3 hours with my dog Orion a Siberian Husky. Started at Lower and parked there, there was some nice shady spots when we got back to the car. It was almost 2pm so not much shade to be found on the trail. The trail, starts off more like a road, wide & gravel. The first 1/4 wasn’t too bad, the walking is mostly crushed stones and very wide which is nice to let the dog wander. Got to Bonanza, I estimated 1/2 way point or slightly more, and you can tell it’s getting a little different. The trail starts getting more narrow, more rocky & more elevation changes. Hit some snow along the way out which created some cool runoffs and small creeks that were nice to cool us both down. Overall a very nice hike, not too difficult and many places to stop along the way. We did have to walk down the road from Upper to the Lower parking lot but I couldn’t avoid it without another vehicle. We didn’t mind it was a beautiful day!

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