Error message

Lingotek profile ID 4 not found.
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak
David H. Carriere/Getty Images

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak
Off-the-beaten path perfection north of Yosemite

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.)

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_D_HS_Hero_packtrip_Sunset-TS_1280x642_sized
Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the High Sierra

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
1
November
Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
18°
High
-4°
Low
Dec - Feb
3°
High
-7°
Low
Mar - May
12°
High
-5°
Low
June - Aug
22°
High
5°
Low

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. 

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VC_YosemiteInWinter_Supplied_Winter-Tunnel-View---Chris-Falkenstein_1280x640
Chris Falkenstein

Yosemite in Winter

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
Visit during the park’s quietest season for unforgettable snowy beauty

With its iconic granite domes and spires etched in snow, and a hushed beauty that’s both intimate and wild, Yosemite National Park makes a magical...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VC_Yosemite.in_.Winter_Stock_RF_GettyImages-562479397
In Yosemite Valley, the Merced River drops over 594-foot Nevada Fall and then 317-foot Vernal Fall, creating what is known as the Giant Staircase.
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak IMG_3821[1]
At 14,505 ft. above sea level, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak BassLake_AmyMeredith_flickr_1280x642
Amy Meredith/Flickr

Bass Lake

Visit a mini Tahoe south of Yosemite

Some think of Bass Lake, the pine-trimmed reservoir about a half-hour’s drive south of Yosemite National Park’s south entrance, as a smaller...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes

High Sierra peaks, deep drifts on a Mammoth volcano, family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes on the edge of Yosemite and more—California has enough alpine destinations to keep any skier or boarder...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak MammothMountain_1251_preview_686x885
SPECIAL FEATURE
Relax after a day on the slopes

Kicking back after you kick off your boots is a snow-country tradition, and there’s plenty of post-slopes fun at California’s top alpine resorts. Have a beer or warm up with an Irish coffee, dance...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak KTBaseBar_JeffEnegerbretson_SquawValley_preview_686x885
Jeff Enegerbretson
Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.
Ansel Adams
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VC_Spotlight_LakeTahoe_Stock_RF_4223000027_1280x640_0
Rachid Dahnoun/Aurora Photos

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
Majestic peaks encircle a turquoise-blue, year-round playground

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list essential. Where else...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_D_MammothLakes_Hero_Horseback_1280x642_0
Rebecca Garrett

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
Snowy winters, wildflower summers

Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the west, folks in this laid-back mountain town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a land of...

As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
Mark Twain (recalling his first sighting of Lake Tahoe)
July - August

With a pine-and-peak alpine setting and a relaxed and friendly ambiance, this appealing event in Bear Valley, roughly halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, includes performances by outstanding...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak BearValleyMusic_preview_686x885
Courtesy of Bear Valley Music Festival
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_D_HS_T5_Mono Lake_VCL_HS_Mono_Kayakers_KG
Kodiak Greenwood

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Visit bizarre formations, cinder cones, and a super-salty lake

There are few places in California—and maybe on the planet—that can make you think you might just be on Mars. This is one of them. At this high-...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_D_HS_T6_Bodie cars_VCL_HS_Bodie_KG-sized
Kodiak Greenwood

Bodie

Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

There's something eerily appropriate about bumping down the dusty desert road that winds the final few miles into Bodie State Historic Park. Round...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_D_HS_T7_Tahoe_MtnBike_Farnum
Alex Farnum

Guided Adventures

Learn to climb, join a pack trip, and more

While there are plenty of ways to play on your own in the High Sierra, there’s a whole host of ways to learn a new activity, like how to catch and...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak Bishop_HighSierra_1280x642_downsized

Bishop

Explore an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side

Bishop brims with outdoor activities. Situated at the north end of the Owens Valley, with close access to some of the Sierra’s most dramatic high...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak CalaverasBTSP_sized
Lucas Himovitz

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Look up at (and learn about) amazing giant sequoias

Established in 1931 to preserve a stunning stand of giant sequoias, this park offers one of the easiest places to see these towering trees. Head 4...

SPECIAL FEATURE
From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak McWayFalls_JPB_SP_preview_686x885
Amy Meredith/Flickr
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak High_Sierra_Trees
The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world.
SPECIAL FEATURE
Gold Rush history, epic high-country landscapes, hidden wine country, and charming country towns

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...

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak VCW_SI_Hero_HS_Yosemite_UpperFalls_KG_preview_686x885
Kodiak Greenwood
Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak Manzanar_sized
Courtesy of Mammoth Chambers of Commerce

Manzanar National Historic Site

Learn about a sobering time in U.S. history

During World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were moved from their homes throughout the West and brought to internment camps like Manzanar...

A Wine-Seller's Shopfront in Truckee, California
Toni Zernik

Truckee

Pacific Crest Trail to Sonora Peak vca_maps_highsierra
This charming mountain town is the central hub for North Shore destinations

Up and over the hill from Lake Tahoe’s north shore, Truckee offers an easy base for an...