The Bonanza Peak Hike follows the Bonanza Mine Trail
up to Bonanza Mine
, then continues upward to Bonanza Peak along a bouldery ridge line. Along the ridge line, you get expansive views of the Wrangell and Chugach Mountain ranges, which contains some of the tallest peaks in Alaska.
Starting from Kennecott, take the Root Glacier Trail
for a short distance before turning right onto the Bonanza Mine Trail
. Follow the switchbacks through the trees up to the tundra, where the views really open up. The Bonanza bowl is very picturesque with patches of snow, a stream and small waterfalls, and turning around, you see Root Glacier
and the Chugach Mountains.
Continuing through the bowl, remnants of mining operations are ever-present and the trail culminates at the mine bunkhouse ruins. Here, you can hike around and observe the historic artifacts before continuing up to Bonanza Peak. For a detailed description of the trail to the mine, please refer to to the Bonanza Mine Trail
The Bonanza Mine Trail
offers a difficult challenge with great views, but those with summit fever will choose to continue upwards to 6687' where you'll get views of a lifetime. Gaining the ridge can generally be described as type 2 fun, with talus and scree competing against your will, but you are rewarded with the views once you are on the ridge. Following the ridge to the summit is not for the faint of heart as it feels quite exposed over the series of ups and downs. Areas of scree can also be fairly loose.
While there is no marked trail above the mine, obtaining the summit is very straightforward and descending back down to the trail can be shortened by bypassing the mine and descending down scree.
This hike has a double black diamond rating due to the exposure on the ridge and steep grade.
History & Background
There are no fees to enter Wrangell-St. Elias, but getting to Kennecott requires logistics (eg. variable parking fee at the end of McCarthy Road, $5 shuttle from McCarthy to Kennecott). While the park and roads are open year-round, McCarthy Road is not regularly maintained in the winter and Kennecott Visitor Center is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Shared By: Abe H