Summit Bonanza Peak, Wrangell-St. Elias NP

Details

Distance

9 miles

Elevation Gain

4000 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Mike Quine

Historic ruins, geologic masterpiece, and rugged wilderness all contained in a 7,000ft mountain. Trek through unique Alaskan tundra, historic mining structures, and gaze upon a unbridled wilderness on this mountain tucked into the backcountry wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

This journey begins at the northern terminus of the historic Kennecott Mines, following the Root Glacier trail to the north. Follow this trail between 1-2 miles until you reach a split in the trail. Follow the split to the southeast and continue along this trail until you reach another split. If you continue to follow the trail south from the split it will take you to the top precipice of the Kennecott Mines below. However, for this adventure, follow the split to the left, and ascend the mountain using a series of switchbacks. From this trail split until reaching the forest line, the trail is sided by homes of Kennecott residents. Though the houses are shrouded by the trees, they should not be disturbed. 

Once through the forest line, the vegetation changes from tall tundra forest to short tundra shrubs. As the terrain then changes to alpine scree, you come across the first remnants of a courageous mining past - a dilapidated mining trolley structure. *Great place for a photo opportunity of the structure but also the spectacular glacial valley below. 

Once passed the structure, the social trail becomes increasingly steep as it switchback up along a massive mountain drainage. The views looking up the mountain are transfixed on the old Bonanza Mining structure. As you hike closer to the structure, it becomes increasingly apparent how unstable the mine has become - truly the last remaining ruins of a courageous and bold endeavor. 

Once at the mine itself, it is fine to explore around the old structure but at your own risk. Time has only further hindered its stability and walking along or through it is inherently risky. The same goes for the final push up the summit. To reach the true peak, it is required to scramble up an impressively steep and wildly unstable scree field. No trail leads to the true summit and extreme caution must be exercised to reach it. That being said, the false summit just above the mine itself provides an unmatchable view of the glacial masterpiece below, the neighboring ranges, and the distant snow-capped behemoths.

As this is an in-and-out trail, continue back down the peak the same way you went up. As a bonus, once back on the Root Glacier trail, fantastic backpacking spots can be found north of the trail split.

*Caution: Bears are common in this area.

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Fitness
Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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