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Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Methuselah Walk USA Ca.jpg
The Methuselah Grove trail in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Location White Mountains, Inyo County, California, United States
Area 43.75 sq mi (113.3 km2)
Max. elevation 3,410 m (11,190 ft)
Min. elevation 3,000 m (9,800 ft)
Administrator United States Forest Service

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California. The Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) trees grow between 9,800 and 11,000 feet (3,000–3,400 m) above sea level, in xeric alpine conditions, protected within the Inyo National Forest. Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) also grow in the forest.

Methuselah

The Methuselah Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is the location of the "Methuselah", a Great Basin bristlecone pine that is 4,852 years old. It is considered to be the world's oldest known and confirmed living non-clonal organism. It was temporarily superseded by a 5,062 year old bristlecone pine discovered in 2010. In May 2017 however, Dr. Peter Brown removed this tree from his database of old trees because the tree and core sample could not be found. "Methuselah" is not marked in the forest, to ensure added protection from vandals.

Geography

Bristlecone CA
Pinus longaeva – bristlecone pines in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, California

The forest is east of the Owens Valley, high on the eastern face of the White Mountains in the upper Fish Lake-Soda Spring Watershed, above the northernmost reach of the Mojave Desert into Great Basin ecotone. The forest's mountain habitat is in the Central Basin and Range ecoregion (EPA) and Taiga and Boreal forest ecoregion (WWF). The Patriarch Grove is the source of Cottonwood Creek, a designated Wild and Scenic River.

Methuselah Grove trail

The Methuselah Grove trail starts from the visitor center at 9,846 feet and makes a 4.5-mile loop that includes the side valley of the Methuselah Grove where the oldest tree lives, a high section looking out eastward over Nevada's basin-and-range region, and side trails to old mining sites. Numbered natural-history markers are explained by a booklet.

Visiting

Bristlecone-pine-forest-janine-sprout
The Schulman and Patriarch groves are located about 30 mi (48 km) from Bishop, California.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is generally open from mid-May through the end of November, weather permitting.

  • Schulman Grove and Schulman Grove Visitor Center – daily interpretive talks and natural history lectures mid-June through Labor Day, and hiking trails.
  • Patriarch Grove – home of the world's largest bristlecone pine, the Patriarch Tree, and a self-guided nature trail.

Fire

On September 4, 2008, an arsonist set fire to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center and several bristlecone pines. The building and all the exhibits within were destroyed. Activities to rebuild the center began the next day and are now complete.

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