Hiking to “See” Methuselah, the World’s Oldest Tree

Text by Christian Camerota

If you're barking up this tree, it's probably a story it's heard before. That's because Methuselah, an ancient bristlecone pine, is 4,768 years old.

You could make the argument that Inyo National Forest, the home of Methuselah and its relatives, belongs on any wonders of the world list, and certainly merits a visit if you're in or around California's White Mountains (or even if you're not). These trees have had plenty of time to drink in the view from their 10,000 to 11,000 foot perches, as every single one of them has been around for at least 4,000 years. Methuselah is the elder statesman of the bunch and officially the oldest tree in the world according to the Guiness Book of Records.

The real adventure, though, is trying to track this living relic down. To protect it from the overenthused and chainsawed trophy hunters, park officials keep Methuselah's identity a secret, revealing only that it is one of the trees directly along the 4.5-mile hiking loop. Of course, it figures that a tree that predates Stonehenge by 600 years, survived through the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization, and was already 2,600 years old when Jesus was born, is likely to have a few tricks up its sleeve if you do attempt any monkey business.

And if you're feeling particularly lissome after meeting trees more than 130 times your age, Inyo National Forest has over 650,000 acres of land for you to peruse, including two major ski resorts (Mammoth and June mountains), several lakes, and Mount Whitney. No wonder Methuselah put down roots here for eternity.