Bonanza King is ranked #164 on the California Prominence List
of mountains with at least 2,000 ft of prominence. Actually, it is in the error range of peaks depending on how the prominence is computed and has somewhere between 1,960 and 2,014 feet of prominence. Bonanza King has a rocky granite summit in a beautiful area of northern California. It is located north of Trinity Lake that is behind the Trinity River Dam along scenic Highway 3. Bonanza King is in Trinity County and the Shasta National Forest.
The name Bonanza King is obviously derived from the extensive gold mining activities that still persist to this day in the area. I couldn’t see any active mining sites on the mountain, but there is gold in the area. There is a manned fire lookout on Bonanza King, but it is not on the highpoint which is about ¾ of a mile north along the ridgeline. The fire lookout was manned/womanned be Betty Carlson for 32 years, however, I heard she died in 2007. The people who man/woman the fire lookouts bring a special dedication to their work and I am thankful that they are there doing their part to protect us from forest fires.
The views from the summit of Bonanza King are fantastic looking east to Mt Shasta
and Castle Crags
, west into the Trinity Alps
, and south to Trinity Lake
For details on the hiking trail see the Route
To access Bonanza King, you first have to find state highway 3 that connects Yreka and Weaverville. There is a short cut road from Interstate 5 that connects the Castle Crag area to highway 3 and there is another connection from the town of Weed to highway 3.
About 4 miles north of the upper end of Trinity Lake there is a national forest campground called Trinity River Campground. The campground is on the west side of the highway, but you will want to turn east towards Bonanza King. This is forest road 38N35 and parallels Scorpion Creek for a ways and then climbs steeply up to Scorpion Lake and then on to the fire lookout. This road is gated and closed from October 30th thru May 1st, so plan your trip accordingly. Of course, you can always walk the road, but the snow may be quite an obstacle, and there is about 4,400 ft of elevation gain in 10 miles.
After visiting the fire lookout come back down the road to the saddle where the road forks and park. This is where you start your hike.
No red tape, no northwest forest pass required, no fires permitted.
The nearest official campground is the Trinity River Campground that is at the base of the mountain on highway 3. There are also many campgrounds around Trinity Lake.
There are lots of places to backpack camp in the area. Your only limitation here is probably your imagination. There are not any flat bivy sites on the summit if you want to do that, but this hike can easily be done in 2-3 hours. The only bivy site that I saw along the route was in the valley above the word King
on the topo.
The mountain is not accessible in the Winter and Spring because of snow. During the Summer and Fall, the area is subject to thunderstorms and you should check the weather forecast before hiking. The closest town is Weaverville.