A Look into the Prehistoric Twisted Forest of Cedar Mountain
When you are in St. George UT or another Southern Utah community, take some time to visit the Twisted Forest. The prehistoric Twisted Forest of Cedar Mountain is one of the most overlooked areas of Southern Utah. This sacred grove of trees can be found at the end of a one mile long, family friendly hike that is just a few miles from Brian Head. It’s a one-of-a-kind stroll that will take you through rare Bristlecone Pines, which are believed to be the oldest living organisms on the planet having survived for over 4,000 years. Combine the scenery with cool temperatures and you get the perfect family hike.
The forest showcases tons of gnarled pines that grow from a chalky gravel hill along Cedar Mountain. The twisted tortured appearance of the forest comes from parts of the Bristlecones dying off while other parts continue to thrive. The oldest tree in the Bristlecone family was cut down in 1964 and was believed to be 4,900 years old. It caused such a public outcry that now the entire Twisted Forest is protected by the federal government. The person who cut down this 4,900 year old tree later became its biggest advocate for protection.
You can find Bristlecones across other states including Nevada, California, and Colorado. However, the largest population of them is found in the Great Basin of Cedar Mountain in the Twisted Forest. The forest is part of a 6,750-acre wilderness area in Dixie National Forest and is managed by the Cedar City Ranger District.
Overview of the Twisted Forest
Hiking this one-mile adventure to the top of the Bristlecone pine grove is short but steep. The slope is also on rocky ground so you have to wear proper shoes and watch your footing. Along with the ancient trees you will get awesome views of the Cedar Mountains, meadows of flowers and the Aspens.
Directions to the Twisted Forest
Starting from the Brian Head resort, drive south on Hwy 143 for about 1.5 miles. Turn right when you see the Twisted Forest sign, which will take you down Forest Road 204. This dirt road will fork off several times so you will need to keep to the left of each fork off. They are all clearly marked Twisted Forest to help direct you to the trailhead. The kiosk at the trailhead will have maps of the area and information about the forest. Please note that the road is impassable when wet.