Description: A short hiking trail that takes you on a 2.2 mile loop through the alpine forests in the high country of the Markagunt Plateau.
Distance: 1.1 Mile One Way
Highest Elevation: 10,660 Feet Above Sea Level
Jurisdiction: Cedar Breaks National Monument
The trailhead for the Alpine Pond trail is located at the Chess man Overlook, which is only 1.7 miles from the Cedar Breaks Visitor Center on Highway 146. Alternatively, you may begin the hike from the Alpine Pond trailhead one mile north on Highway 146 from the Chessman Overlook. There are also several shorter routes and variations to this trail. For this description, we will be starting at The Chessman Overlook and following the trail to the left, the lower trail, and returning by means of the upper trail.
Regardless of which end you decide to start from on the Alpine Pond trail, there are brochures offered at the trailheads for $1 that offer detailed information about the trail and mountains around you. The Alpine Pond trail takes you across the rim overlooking the Cedar Breaks amphitheater on one side, and the high mountain plateau on the other.
From Chessman Overlook, you will follow the trail downhill through the pine forest until you get to a point where the trail diverges. If you head left (as I do), you will follow the rim of Cedar Breaks, looking down into the Cedar Breaks Amphitheater. About a quarter from the divergence of the trail, you will find yourself at Rattle Creek, a small stream which flows from Alpine Pond. Alpine Pond itself is a beautiful little pond that is formed by a small, clear spring. It is requested that Alpine Pond remain undisturbed. It is best to bring your own drinking water with you; but if you must drink, drink from Rattle Creek below Alpine Pond rather than from Alpine Pond itself. If you have brought protection from insects, such as a hat and long-sleeved shirt or plenty of deet, Alpine Pond can be a great place to rest and perhaps have lunch.
If you should find yourself running out of time, there is a short trail here at Alpine Pond that connects you from the lower to upper trail to cut your loop in half and get you back to Chessman Overlook a little quicker.
If you continue on the lower trail heading north, you will be head through several small meadows and through an ancient volcanic rock area where the yellow-bellied marmots, least chipmunks, and pikas are often found. From this volcanic rock area, the trail will climb uphill to the northernmost end of the loop at Alpine Pond Trailhead where you will now head back south- this time on the upper trail.
This upper trail will take you through the spruce and fir where there are plenty of Douglas squirrels found gathering pine cones for winter. These Douglas squirrels are responsible for the growth of many a new pine tree, for there are times when they will bury a pinecone and either get killed or simply forget where they buried it, giving the pine seeds a chance to sprout. As you continue, the pines will be exchanged at times for the bright green quaking aspen. After you pass the short connecting trail to the lower trail and Alpine Pond, you will find yourself in a meadow that is, at the right season of the year, full of bright wildflowers. Many animals, especially deer and elk, love to abide in this meadow a long season. From here, you will simply continue a short, easy walk until you return at Chessman Overlook.