Great Basin National Park


Opportunities for hiking abound in the park. Easy to moderate trails lead to spectacular alpine lakes, meadows, and bristlecone pine forests. If you're looking for a challenge, the hike up Wheeler Peak, the park's highest point, is a bit more strenuous, beginning at approximately 10,000 feet and climbing to over 13,000. For visitors who enjoy exploring the vast wilderness by backpacking, extensive backcountry areas are also available.

Great Basin National Park Trails

Mountain View Nature Trail
Near the Visitor Center is the historic Rhodes Cabin and a short nature trail. The Mountain View Nature Trail, four-tenths of a mile long (about 3/4 km), is a self-guided loop that begins near the Rhodes Cabin and ends at the rear of the Visitor Center. The Mountain View Nature Trail brochure obtained at the Visitor Center offers information on plants, animals, and geology found along the trail.

Alpine Lakes Loop
The loop to Stella and Teresa Lakes begins at the Bristlecone Parking Area. This 2.7-mile (4.6 km) hike offers a leisurely way to view the high country. These shallow alpine lakes are often surrounded by brilliantly colored wildflowers.

Bristlecone and Glacier Trail
The trail begins at the Bristlecone Parking Area located by Wheeler Peak Campground. The trail climbs gently to the bristlecone grove and then continues on at a slightly steeper angle to the glacier. In the bristlecone pine grove, interpretive signs will help you explore the challenging lives of these ancient trees. The trail is 2.8 miles (4.8 km) round-trip to the bristlecones and 4.6 miles (7.8 km) round-trip to the glacier. Check current activity schedules for an opportunity to join a ranger for a guided hike through the bristlecones.

Lehman Creek Trail
This trail stretches between Upper Lehman Creek Campground and Wheeler Peak Campground. The one-way distance is 3.4 miles (5.8 km) with an elevation change of 2,000 feet. The Lehman Creek Trail passes through a variety of plant communities and allows you to see the diversity present in the Great Basin. The lower end of the trail lies in pinyon-juniper forest then winds into white fir at Wheeler Peak Campground.

Lexington Arch
About a 30-mile (51 km) drive south of the visitor center is a six-story limestone arch. The first mile of the trail climbs up a steady grade then levels off before crossing into the park. The last quarter mile climbs several short switchbacks to the arch. The trail to the arch is 1.7 miles (3 km) one-way. Check at the visitor center for directions and current road conditions.

Baker Lake via Baker Creek
This trail begins at the end of Baker Creek road and leads you 6 miles (10.2 km) along Baker Creek to Baker Lake, an elevation gain of 2,200 feet. The Baker Creek Trail passes through various plant communities and provides excellent views of surrounding peaks.

Johnson Lake Trail via South Fork Baker Creek
This rocky, strenuous trail takes you to one of the alpine lakes of the park, 5.6 miles one-way (9.5 km). The trail climbs steeply and contains several rocky sections. Approximately a mile and a half below the lake the trail merges with an old road and continues to be steep and rocky. The last half mile of the trail is less steep, but difficult to find. You can also hike to Johnson Lake from Shoshone Campground at the end of Snake Creek road (4 miles one-way, 6.4 km).

Wheeler Peak Summit Trail
The first part of this trail is relatively gentle to the junction with the Alpine Lakes Trail. The trail gradually climbs reaching the ridge at a saddle (10,874 feet). From here the trail becomes very steep and rocky, gaining over 1,000 feet per mile. The trail becomes more of a route following the ridge to the summit. Plan on taking a full day to complete this hike. Begin early in the day to avoid afternoon thunderstorms on high ridges. (4.3 miles (7.3 km) one-way.)

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 9 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »