Bonanza Trail Hike - Notes for 07/03/2017

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This page last updated on 07/03/2017

Bonanza Hike Summary: After following the paved Cold Creek Road through to the edge of town, it will turn into a dirt road. This unmarked dirt road is called the Camp Bonanza Cold Creek Road. To get to the trailhead, follow this road for 2.2 miles to a parking area. The elevation at the parking lot and trailhead is 7,553 feet. (Refer to (Fig. 02) From the trailhead, follow the obvious trail for 2.8 miles up 2,253 feet to the Bonanza Saddle at the top of the ridge. From the saddle, elevation 9,803 feet, looking west into the valley below you will see Pahrump NV. Once you attain the saddle, turn to your left (south) and you will again see the very obvious trail heading off towards a heavily wooded area. Stay on the trail that ascends with a series of gentle switchbacks. After nearly a mile, just 10 yards before the last switchback that heads down, turn left. This use trail takes you to the summit of Bonanza Peak. The peak is an elevation of 10,397 feet , making the total one-way hike a distance of 4.07 miles from the trailhead.  Even though there are lots of switchbacks (someone estimated more than 80), the total elevation elevation gain from the trailhead is 2,844 feet, making what I consider to be a moderately difficult hike.
(Fig. 02)

07/03/2017 Hike Notes
This trip was my tenth visit to Cold Creek. Today, Jim Herring, her daughter Christina, Bob Croke and I decided to head to Cold Creek Nevada to hike the Bonanza Peak trail. On our approach to the town of Cold Creek we spotted a mule and 5-7 wild horses. This was the first time I have ever seen a mule here (Fig. 04). It seemed that most of these animals were not getting enough to eat as the 'ribs' on most of them were showing (Fig. 03).   

This was my fourth time hiking this trail. The 2.2 mile dirt road above the town (Camp Bonanza Cold Creek Road) leads to the trailhead. We made it in Jim's SUV without any trouble. Even though we got an early start, by the time we arrived at the trailhead around 8:15 am, it was already 82 degrees. From the trailhead, the total distance to the peak is 4.07 miles with an elevation climb of 2,844 feet. Our goal was only to the saddle at the top of the ridge line, a distance of 2.8 miles with a 2,253 feet climb. Even though there are lots of switchbacks, due to the elevation gain, this is a moderately difficult hike. As we continued to gain elevation the temperature actually began to drop some. Because we were all somewhat out of shape we made frequent stops in the shady areas to drink and rest (Fig. 07), many of which provided beautiful scenic views of the valley below (Fig. 08). The higher we hiked, the more and more switchbacks we encountered (Fig. 09). (con't below)
(Fig. 03)

(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
Trip Notes Continued: At the higher level the sides of the steep hillsides and the trail were lined with thousands of Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa) (Fig. 09), the delicate white flowers seen in (Fig. 10). We even spotted several rocks that contained marine fossils (Fig. 11). Closer to the crest the trail is filled with a mix of Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, and Bristlecone Pine. (See... Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva). The higher we climbed, the more breaks we took in the shade of the beautiful Bristle Pines (Fig. 12)  Every open space provided wonderful views (Fig. 13). In addition to the occasional cacti there were we many Utah Penstemon (Penstemon utahensis), as seen in (Fig. 14). Talking with some returning hikers, they indicated that we still had more than a mile left to reach the Bonanza Saddle. Upon our return, Bob's study of Google Earth indicated that we would have had to climb another 500 feet in elevation in only 0.4 miles to the nearer ridge and over over 1000 ft in 0.9 miles to the big ridge. After only a few more switchbacks, the trail seemed to be getting steeper; verifying the information we later learned. At this point, we all decided that we were all getting quite tired and made a decision to turnaround and head back down. A good decision; by the time I reached the trailhead my legs were pretty well spent. Even though we were disappointed we didn't reach the saddle, it was a good hike.
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)

(Fig. 14)