Summiting Saint Mary Peak

Saint Mary Peak is one of the 9,000 feet plus peaks in the Bitterroot Range. The is a well-worn trail to the summit gains nearly 2500 feet in 3.6 miles. Jeff and I attacked this trail for our Tuesday afternoon hike, and after much effort, we reached the summit where we were treated to views of the Heavenly Twins, McCalla Lakes, and the entire Bitterroot Range. And, for Christ’s sake, it is Saint Mary Peak, not St. Mary’s Peak!

Getting There

Take US Hwy 93 for 3.6 miles from Stevensville to Indian Prairie Loop. Look for Forest Service Trailhead signs (they will be hiding in plain sight). Turn right and travel 1.3 miles to St. Mary road. Turn right again and go for .5 mile, taking the first left onto FR 739, which is well marked.

At the fork in about a mile, take the right fork. Keep on this gravel road for a shade over 10 miles to its end (complete with a shitter).

The Hike

  • Trail: St. Mary Peak Trail #116
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2472 feet

The trail maintains a steady and steep incline for the entire 3.6 length. You break into a huge krummholz area with stunted whitebark pines. On the ridge preceding the summit, you find true alpine habitat.

Total distance: 7.41 mi
Max elevation: 9357 ft
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South down the Bitterroot Range

South down the Bitterroot Range

Heavenly Twins in the distance

Heavenly Twins in the distance

The Wildflowers

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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