Take a deep breath—you’re beginning this hike at nearly 10,000 feet, where the air is thin, but the wildflowers are divine. And you’re going higher—all the way to Sonora Peak’s 11,459-foot summit. You’ll find flowers along this challenging but oh-so-worth-it six-mile round-trip from early July to early August.
From the St. Mary’s Pass trailhead, the path skirts volcanic slopes splashed with colour. “This exhilarating hike offers a variety of sub-alpine and alpine plants, including scarlet gilia, Indian paintbrush, blue flax, and Sierra lilies,” says local botanist Karen Wiese. The trail climbs steadily, with only short reprieve on a level plateau before the final summit ascent. When you finally top Sonora Peak’s summit, expect a knock-your-socks-off vista: You’re surrounded by a banquet of peaks in the Carson-Iceberg, Hoover, and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: From Pinecrest, take State Highway 108 east for 35 miles. The St. Mary’s Pass trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail is on the north side of the road, 0.8 mile before the top of Sonora Pass. (If you are coming from the east, take Highway 108 west for 32 miles from Bridgeport. The trailhead is 0.8 mile west of Sonora Pass.)
Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colours in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.
Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” --photographer Ansel Adams
Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, is here, roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway.
Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows—it’s no secret that Yosemite delivery some seriously big wow moments. But what is a secret is the bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your...