Sky Islands Forest Trail, Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV
Trail Length 0.4 miles
Trail type Loop
Surface type Interlocking rubber tiles. Wooden deck over sensitive areas.
Minimum width 32 inches
Maximum grade 8.33% (equals maximum ADA ramp grade)
Accessible features Benches in rest areas, vault toilet at parking
Obstacles Some tiles have separated creating a gap
Great Basin National Park is one of the least visited National Parks in the United States. That is because of its remote location on the central Nevada boundary with Utah. That is wonderful! The park is centered around Mount Wheeler at more than 13,000 ft. in elevation. The park is an island of forest, streams, bristlecone pines, and alpine tundra surrounded by high desert sagebrush land and ranches. There are also beautiful Lehman Caves located at the park Visitor Center and open for tours. The nearest town is Baker, Nevada.
The Sky Islands Forest Trail takes you through a forest of Englemann Spruce and Limber pines interspersed with alpine meadows, flowing creeks, and aspen groves. The trail surface is covered with interlocking, permeable rubber tiles which provide a smooth surface for wheelchairs. In areas of more sensitive ground and marsh the trail is elevated boardwalk. Rest areas are spaced along the trail with room for wheelchair parking. If you are using a cane, be careful along the entire trail for gaps in the tiles and gaps in the wood.
While this trail does not provide the experience of alpine lakes and bristlecone pines for which this park is celebrated, it does provide the sights, smells, and sounds of high altitude forest, meadows and streams. Even in peak summer season, it is little used. It is called a “nature trail” with interpretive signage and would be great with children. The trail has a more manageable running slope, or grade, if done in a counter clockwise direction. If you are traveling with others who desire to hike more rigorous trails not accessible to you, the Island Forest Trail is a great place to hang out with a book by a creek, or to do several laps of the loop for exercise in a gorgeous spot.
To get to the Sky Islands Forest Trail from Baker, take the road all the way up to the highest point at the Wheeler Peak Campground at 9886 feet in elevation. There is parking for trail access and accessible restrooms at the entrance to the campground. Site #5 at the campground is considered the “accessible” site.
The trailhead for several trails is directly across the road from parking. The Sky Islands Forest Trail continues straight and the Alpine Lakes and Bristlecone Trails branch right and climb up an inaccessible, eroded trail.
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