Named Saint Mary's Peak on September 24, 1841, by Father Pierre, a Jesuit Priest, this mountain was subsequently renamed Saint Mary Peak, no doubt to distinguish it from another similarly named summit. During 1965 the Knights of Columbus began an annual pilgrimage to the top of this mountain to visit a small shrine which has been built on the summit.
Though one of the most massive, Saint Mary (9,351’) is possibly the most easily reached summit in the Bitterroot Mountains
The route to the summit begins at the Saint Mary Trailhead and follows a well-defined two-and-a-half-mile trail up the southeast ridge. The long-established trail climbs through an area containing excellent specimens of Whitebark Pine, crosses open wind-swept slopes just below the summit, and ends at a fire lookout now being operated by volunteers.
Be careful. Although this is an easy summit to reach during fair weather, this mountain has taken the lives of many backcountry skiers (who love the near-summit slopes) and winter hikers. When snow-covered, it’s easy to get off-track near the summit and into danger situations.—Michael Hoyt