The Saint Mary's Pass Trailhead is located in the Stanislaus National Forest on the West side of Sonora Pass at an elevation of 9427ft. The trail climbs at a moderate grade for 1.5miles to Saint Mary's Pass, gaining 1000ft. From the Pass the hiker has the option of following the established trail North toward Stanislaus Peak, or following the use trail East toward Sonora Peak.
This high mountain trailhead is a comon starting point for Sonora Peak and Stanislaus Peak. While neither peak is an extremely challenging hike/scramble in dry conditions, the views from their summits are spectacular. Sonora Peak is also one of the coveted California County High Points(Alpine County).
The trailhead is usually accessible and snow free by the beginning of July. Access to the trailhead is limited to times when Sonora Pass is open. This is usually from May to October, or whenever the first snows close highway 108. There are no facilities at the trailhead and no parking fee is required.
To reach the trailhead follow highway 108 East from Sonora/Pinecrest toward Sonora Pass or West from 395 up over Sonora Pass. From the West side you will head up through the steep canyon and as you near Sonora Pass a meadow will open up on your right side. There is a moderate sized parking lot on the North side of the road, signed for those coming from the East. On the South side of the road there is a smaller dirt lot that provides parking when the main lot is covered in snow. From the East head over Sonora Pass and start back down the West side. After approximately .75miles you will reach the parking lots listed above. The trailhead is on the North side of the road at the far end of the main lot.
Correction: Note that the St. Mary's trailhead is not part of the Emigrant Wilderness Area. It is national forest land that lies between the Emigrant and Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Areas. It is not subject to the same restrictions that wilderness areas have, such as the requirement to have a wilderness permit for overnight camping.