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Backpacker Magazine – May 2009
Discover the world's oldest tree, America's biggest cavern, and Florida's largest herd of wild horses on these three treks.
The World's Oldest Living Tree
Hike to Methuselah Grove, where conifers predate Egypt's pyramids.
Methuselah, named after the biblical character who lived to be 900, looks like a wisp of smoke magically turned to wood. This 4,840-year-old great basin bristlecone pine sits in the subalpine zone of California's White Mountains at 11,500 feet. It's impossible to distinguish it from the crowd, though–it's unmarked to protect it from being "loved to death." Such was the fate of the world's former oldest tree, another great basin bristlecone, named Prometheus, which was cut down in 1964 by an unknowing grad student.
From the Schulman Grove trailhead, an hour northeast of Bishop, California, hike the Methuselah Grove Trail, a 4.5-mile loop with 800 feet of elevation gain. In 2.4 miles, you'll reach Methuselah Grove (rumor has it, the old man is near the trail). Arrive at sunrise or sunset, when trees explode in golden hues against the gray. fs.fed.us/r5/inyo