Bristlecone Loop in Bryce Canyon is a short 1 mile loop that begins at the end of the scenic road in Bryce. It hikes through the ancient bristlecone trees from Yovimpa Point around to Rainbow Point. You can also hike it the other way around if you want since it’s a loop.
To walk the Bristlecone Loop trail park as near to the beginning of the parking lot as possible. This is a paved trail to Yovimpa Point overlook. There will be many tour buses of people heading along the paved trail and you should, too. After visiting the overlook, head back to the junction in the trail and turn down (right) following the sign for Bristlecone Loop. The trail splits again after about 100 yards, and you want to turn right again. Eventually, this trial will loop around and come out at Rainbow Point, which you can then view before heading back to your vehicle.
The hike through the pines is really nice. It is mostly shady, and there are pine cones littering the path and squirrels chattering in the trees. Our oldest boy said, “I walk 50 steps and see a squirrel, then 50 more steps and see another squirrel,” so keep your eyes open.
The bristlecone pines are amazing, too. First of all, they smell almost sweet and piney, nothing like that little tree you hang from your rearview mirror. They are also very old. The sign claims that one tree, which looks dead but apparently was just latent when we were there, is over 1,200 years old! There is definitely a feeling of reverence as you walk this trail.
The trail is mostly flat and well marked. As you come to the old pine tree, there are also beautiful views of Bryce Canyon. This was the first place we visited in Bryce, so our boys were in awe of the Hoodoos. There are a few interpretive signs and an impressive overlook, too. At this old tree, the trail begins to double back to the parking lot. You will have a slight climb as you head back toward the parking lot, but nothing very strenuous. Our three year-old walked the entire way except for when he fell and scraped his knee (shown below being carried).
Along the trail, you can also spot a Hike the Hoodoos marker where you can do a rubbing or take a photo with (see Bryce Canyon Hoodos Challenge).