Round Trip 7.2 miles
My friend, Lynda, and I decided to try a hike that neither of us had previously tackled. We drove to Sonora Pass at an elevation of 9626′, the second highest highway crossing in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This pass saw its first wagons headed to the gold fields in 1852. By 1854 it was said that the pass was littered with broken axels and wheels emphasizing just how rugged this area is. In 1865 a toll road was completed over the pass allowing for regular commercial traffic. Now, Sonora Pass is mainly visited by those out to enjoy the stunning landscape. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses the highway (highway 108) here, and this is where our adventure begins as we enter the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness on the PCT.
Although we did not realize it at the time, our first open view was an overview of the entire hike. After a series of switchbacks, we would cross St. Mary’s Pass at the far right of the photo and then scramble our way to the left where Sonora Peak is just out of sight beyond the large snow patch.
The view behind us was that of Mt. Leavitt and surrounding peaks.
Still early in the season we did have to cross snow patches. As the day progressed we had to be careful not to fall through snow bridges into the streams gushing down the mountainside.
After an easy rolling trail, taking in the 5 star scenery, the uphill climb began.
In order to tackle the mountain before us, the trail followed along with a series of switchbacks.
The higher we ascended the more far-reaching the views were.
There were sections of the trail where the earth was quite red as we approached St. Mary’s Pass.
We left the PCT at St. Mary’s Pass and that was where the true scrambling took place. Going up was a little slippy, but on the return we had to be very careful.
This part of our journey was cross country with occasional trails, just enough so that we knew we were on the right track.
Coming up the side of the mountain, we were finally able to peek over the top to see the view to the north.
Behind us the southern view towards Yosemite and beyond was breathtaking. This would make a crazy jigsaw puzzle!
And finally, Sonora Peak revealed itself to us! We still had a little way to go.
Wahoo! We have arrived on the top at 11,462′ elevation, the highest peak in Alpine County.
After hunting around a bit, we found the logbook to record our achievement. It is always enjoyable to read the entries made by other hikers which kept us entertained while we ate our lunch.
To the northwest we could make out mountains in the Mokelume Wilderness such as Mokelume Peak and Round Top and even Pyramid Peak in the Desolation Wilderness just above Lake Tahoe.
So beautiful! Thanks for sharing the history of Sonora Pass as well as your trip! I hope to one day make it to the Sierra Nevada’s.
I hope that you make it out here, too! We have had a devastating fire in our area, but hope that some of our favorite hikes survived.
Splendid pictures of the views from the peak as well as of the trail! I am still reading up about the trails in America and the logbook is making me curious. How’s it maintained? Are there personnel who look after the trail?
Thank you so much for such an elaborate reply 🙂