One of two maintained trails inside the Cedar Breaks National Monument the Alpine Pond Trail is a beautiful walk through an ecosystem that seems out of place next to the desert view of the amphitheater. Designed as an educational trail, a colorful brochure is available for purchase $1.00 based on the honor system at the trailhead. I found the brochure along with the numbered markers to be both informative and yes, educational, of this high elevation subalpine forest (Note: I paid the $1.00).
On a sad note, the brochure also includes a picture of this amazing place BEFORE the beetles destroyed all the magnificent Spruce trees surrounding the pond.
Bug Spray! Fly's, nat's and mosquito's are common.
Elevation! You are hiking at 10,000 feet, respect this fact and pay attention to any altitude sickness. You can expect to be winded, but any unexplained severe headaches should cause you to seek lower elevation immediately.
Family Friendly Hike but use caution, this is a maintained dirt trail (complete with rocks , roots and mud).
View points exist on the edge of a crumbling eroding amphitheater, keep away from the very edge. And keep children close.
Take plenty of water (drink more at higher elevations) and energy snacks
This trail can be accessed from either the Chessman Parking Area or the Alpine Pond Parking Area.
A shortened version of this trail is available from both parking lots by a connecting trail between the upper and lower trails at the Alpine Pond.
Start by taking the lower trail, this will allow you to follow the numbering system of the brochure. Immediately you will recognize the alpine feel of this wonderful environment. Your first visit is the Rock Apartment. If you are hiking during the heat of the day, Marmots should be visible sunning themselves on the rocks.
Education continues as you read about Lichens and their role in breaking down rocks into soil.
It becomes painfully obvious that a Beetle Epidemic hit this area. Most of the large Spruce Trees are dead and waiting to play their role in nature's cycle. Because National Parks and Monuments are protected areas, no action was taken or will be taken regarding these trees.
Immediately after the Alpine Pond, a shortcut will take you to the Upper Trail and back to the trailhead, making this a 1 mile loop. If you desire to continue, follow the trail downhill (following the stream leaving the Alpine Pond).
The trail soon leads you to a view point overlooking Cedar Breaks majestic amphitheater. The towering pinnacles of Limestone are called Hoodoos and this view is very different from the view at the visitor center.
The upper trail is easy walking along the relative level edge of the Markagunt Plateau. Beautiful views of wildflowers, Quaking Aspen trees and occasional glimpses back into the Amphitheater, make this an enjoyable place to visit.
As an educational trail the brochure is exceptionally well done with easy to read thoughts and beautiful pictures, a "must do" hike if you are trying to teach young children about the fragile nature of ecosystems. The dead trees give you an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson; that man isn't always responsible for the bad things that happen to the environment. The trail is easy to navigate and the views into the amphitheater are inspirational. Visited on Jul 14, 2011