It is a 22-mile out-and-back if you start from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and work your way out to Bonanza Peak. If you begin here, note that you'll have to hike for a bit on the Upper Bristlecone Trail
before you even reach the start of this trail. The total elevation gain is approximately 6,000 ft. If you decide to start from the Lower Bristlcone Trailhead, you'll add 4 miles to your hike (about 26 miles out and back to Bonanza Peak).
The first 6 miles or so are mostly uphill. The grades will be steep, but this is the most strenuous portion of the trail.
Mile 0-2.5: Stay on the Upper Bristlecone Trail
until you see the sign for the Bonanza Trailhead.
Mile 3.5-4: Mt Charleston Wilderness sign. At this fork, the trail veers to the right up some wooden steps.
Mile 6.5: Trail splits: Bonanza Trail continues on to left and up McFarland Peak to the right. If you find yourself doing some class 2 scrabbling, you have probably bit off on the McFarland Peak Trail.
Miles 7-9: Downhill...enjoy it because you'll be climbing the next 2-3 miles on switchbacks to Bonanza Peak.
Mile 9: Wood Spring. A metal box, which is now rusted, acts as a seasonal water source. Don't rely on it during the summer months. About 40 yards after it, the trail forks. If you follow the left fork, it will lead across a small gully and into an area with few campsites. The right fork continues onto the trail.
Mile 10.5: Keep a close eye out for the Bonanza Peak Summit Spur
. There is a large kairn constructed where the peak use-trail begins. Kairns mark the way towards the summit, but there are many scrambling routes to reach the summit. At this point you can choose your own adventure. You'll see a green tin can at the peak.
Mile 10.5 to the end: If your goal isn't Bonanza Peak, you'll stay on the trail as it meanders around the foot of the mountain. The trail here is mostly rolling, though much flatter than the beginning. The trail ends at the Northern Bonanza Peak Trailhead.
This route is a bit more remote than say the Mt Charleston South/North Loop
. I didn't run into any fellow hikers on my Sunday outing. When I made this trip in December, about 1/3 of the trail was snow covered (average 3-4 inches of snow). I had to go off trail for about a total of 1 mile or so to avoid the pockets of deeper (6-12 in) of snow.