Pike National Forest

Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area

Located in the Pike National Forest

The Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area was established by the US. Forest Service in 1964.

Bristle cone pines (Pinus aristata), the most durable living entities on this planet, are known to have achieved lifespans of several thousand years. One specimen from Wheeler Peak in Humboldt National Forest, Nevada, has been dated by dendrochronology (the counting of tree rings) at an age of 4,900 years. The closest runner-up to be verified is the Sierra redwood of northern California dated at 2,300 years of age. A native of the American Rocky Mountains, these conifers are found at elevations which exceed 8,000 feet and are often found right at the timberline. Colorado contains the most easterly found environments for bristlecone pines in the United States.

Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area, one of several stands of bristlecones in Colorado, is located atop Windy Ridge at the eastern foot of Mount Bross, the 22nd highest peak in the state at 14,172 feet in elevation. The winds from which the ridge gets its name have caused the trees to take on a tilted appearance. Good views of South Park are also available from this ridge. The visitor may wish to estimate the age of these trees by observing the rings in the stumps of those trees cut, unfortunately, for mining timbers. Artists and photographers find the Scenic Area to provide excellent opportunities.


From the junction Colorado 9 and US 285 in Fairplay, follow Colorado 9 north to the Alma city limit (5.7). Turn left at an intersection with a side road on the left in the middle of town across from a gas station (6.0). Continue straight at the first intersection (one block from Colo. 9) and pass a blue sign (Park County 8) on the right side of this good dirt road. Continue on this road and turn right onto Forest Development Road (FDR) #415 at the intersection marked by a sign as access to Mineral Park (8.8). Continue on this dirt road past Sawmill Creek (10.4) to a point where the road seems to empty into a mining area (11.8). Bear left and wind uphill through the remains of this Mineral Park Mine area. As the road curves to the right, ignore a side road (11.9) on the left marked as FDR #857. Immediately thereafter, ford a small stream and continue up the hill on a slightly steeper portion. The road then curves to the left around some concrete foundations and then to the right as it climbs to the rim of Windy Ridge. A small parking area (12.4) is provided on the right side for the Scenic Area. From the parking lot you can wander out onto the ridge and enjoy viewing the Bristlecone Pines.

Altitude -- 11,714 Feet (Windy Ridge)
Best Visit -- Midsummer to Late Summer
Facilities -- None
Time Needed -- One Hour

For further information contact:

Pike National Forest
1920 Valley Road
Pueblo, CO 81008
(719) 545-8737

Topo maps covering the scenic area: Alma 7.5 (1970).

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

  • Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area Travel Q&A

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  • hiking alone
    is hiking alone generally ill-advised, in Inyo NF or Bristlecone? especially if one is afraid of bears?!?

    Asked on April 25, 2012 by  rocky13 | 186 views

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