Sonora Pass Vacations
Lodging and Camping
Hiking, Fishing, Mountain Biking, Star Gazing, Sightseeing
Leavitt Meadow rests at the foot of the eastern slope of Sonora Pass
in Mono County, California. The 2-mile long meadow is 7,100 feet above sea level, but because of lower
precipitation on the eastern side of the Sierra, it is often free of snow by May. Adjacent to Leavitt Meadow
is its sister, Pickel Meadow, where the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center is located.
The only facilities at Leavitt Meadow now are the Leavitt Meadow Pack Station and the
Leavitt Meadow Campground. Bordering the Hoover Wilderness, Leavitt Meadow is a popular
jumping off place for trips into the back country. Great fishing abounds in the lakes, rivers, and streams in the
Fall Color on Sonora Pass
It's hard to predict when the aspen trees standing in groves along the eastern side of Sonora Pass
will turn to their brilliant fall colors. Often it is sometime in October for all of Mono County.
If you happen to be in
the area in the fall, don't miss the opportunity to drive up the pass from Leavitt Meadow. The colors
are often so dazzling it's hard to believe they are real.
If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, heading up Silver Creek behind the
Marine Training Center makes for an interesting adventure. To access the Silver Creek Road, you have
to pass through a gate at the Marine Base. Once on the road you may find the side roads confusing, but
if you go at it with a sense of adventure, whichever way you go will turn out interesting. Climbing up
to Summit Meadow you get spectacular views of the Sierra crest back to the west. Often the Marines are
in the area doing training.
Fishing and Hiking
Fishing is excellent on the West Fork of the Walker River, especially lower down toward Sonora
Junction. The river is home to rainbow, brook,
and brown trout. Fishing is usually best beginning in late June when the peak of the snowmelt has passed.
For those willing to do a little hiking, the nearby lakes and streams in the back country provide some
great fishing destinations. Close to the road are Poore Lake and Kirman Lake. No fishing is allowed at
Junction Reservoir and special regulations govern Kirman Lake.
By taking the trail from Leavitt Meadow Campground you can reach Roosevelt and Lane lakes in a little more
than an hour. Both offer great fishing. Check state regulations regarding limits in these lakes.
For more about fishing around Leavitt Meadow see Dave's Sierra Fishing.
The 3.5 mile hike to Roosevelt and Lane lakes mentioned above is a great day hike. By swinging past Secret
Lake on your return you can make a nice loop trip.
More ambitious hikes take you deep into the Hoover Wilderness. Backcountry lakes such as Fremont Lake, Cinco
Lake, and Chain of Lakes are rewarding fishing destinations and take you along scenic backpacking routes. Piute Meadow is another
beautiful location. From the meadow you are nearly at the foot of Tower Peak and surrounding summits. Pick up
a wilderness permit at the self-serve kiosk in the backpackers parking lot or stop at the Ranger Station just
south of Bridgeport.
High Sierra Trails
A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada
The Sonora and Mono Wagon Road
The old Sonora and Mono Wagon Road came down the pass using the same twists and turns as present-day Highway 108.
Once at Leavitt Meadow an early version of the road crossed the river and struck out directly toward Pickel Meadow.
Objections to that route brought the road back to the same side of the Walker River as Highway 108. If you stop
at Silver Falls (see below), cross the road
Leavitt Meadow Hostelry
In the 1860s when the wagon road first opened, Hiram Leavitt brought his family over Sonora Pass and established
a small hotel on the bank of the river in Leavitt Meadow. A marker notes the historic site, but there is virtually
nothing to be seen there. Eventually Leavitt tired of running the way station and moved his family to Bridgeport.
The Walker River Emigrant Trail
In 1852 a group of emigrants from Ohio known as the Clark-Skidmore Party brought the first wagons over the
Walker River Trail to Columbia in Tuolumne County. The route led down from Summit Meadow and close to Silver Creek, across the West
Walker River in Pickel Meadow, and up past Poore Lake. From there the emigrants wound their way over to the head of
Leavitt Meadow and up a narrow chute which brought them out on the river just beyond Lane Lake. Following
streams they found their way up to Fremont Lake, past Chain of Lakes, and on up to a pass near High Emigrant
Few traces of the trail remain. For more about the history of the trail and its emigrants, read
Sonora Pass Pioneers
by David H. Johnson, available from the Tuolumne County Historical Society.
For the best view of Leavitt Falls (shown right), drive 1.3 miles west from the Leavitt Meadow Pack Station , watching
for a sign and turnoff on your left. A short trail leads to an overlook.
The falls drops about 250 feet in several steps.
Silver Falls is between Leavitt Meadow and Poore Meadow. From the Leavitt Meadow
Campground drive .8 miles east and watch for it on your left. It makes about a 20 foot
drop in two tiers. By late summer
it usually dries up.
Leavitt Meadow Area Campgrounds
Leavitt Meadow Campground
The Leavitt Meadow Campground is located on Highway 108 in Leavitt Meadow
7 miles west of Sonora Junction (Highway 395). The West Fork of the Walker River runs
past the campground. At an elevation of 7,100', Leavitt Meadow Campground is usually
open from late May through October. It is on a first come, first served basis.
Cost: $20 for a single site and $5 for an extra vehicle
Leavitt Meadow Campground Amenities
- 1 tent-only sites and 15 RV or tent sites
- Piped water
- Vault toilets
- The nearest supplies (food and gas) are in Bridgeport, 24 miles away
Sonora Bridge Campground
The Sonora Bridge Campground is located off Highway 108 in
1.7 miles west of Sonora Junction (Highway 395). The West Fork of the Walker River runs
near the campground. At an elevation of 6,800' Leavitt Meadow Campground is usually
open from May through October. It is on a first come, first served basis.
Cost: $12 for a single site and $5 for an extra vehicle
Sonora Bridge Campground Amenities
- 23 sites
- Piped water
- Vault toilets
- The nearest supplies (food and gas) are in Bridgeport, 19 miles away
For more information, see Leavitt Meadow Campgrounds.
Leavitt Meadows Pack Station
Leavitt Meadows Pack Station is located alongside Highway 108 in Leavitt Meadow,
on the east side
of Sonora Pass. They are a favorite in Mono County and up and down the
the eastern Sierra. They offer a variety of Trail Rides:
The Meadow Ride: $30 / person
This is a 1-hour ride loops around Leavitt Meadows. On this ride you will ride along side the
river and through the gorgeous meadow. Enjoy the warm sun and refreshing breeze. This is the
perfect horse adventure for those who just want a little bit of time in the saddle.
The Secret Lake Ride: $55 / person
Around 2 hours long, this ride will follow the pack trial for a ways and then head to Secret Lake.
You will overlook Leavitt Meadows and the Pickle Meadow area during the ride.
The Falls Ride: $70 / person
This ride will be close to 4 hours. Follow the pack trail past Lane and Roosevelt Lake.
Then split off and down to the West Walker River and the Falls. If you wish, you can pack a
lunch or snack to enjoy during the break overlooking the Falls.
On Spot Pack Trips you ride in with a packer to
a campsite and are dropped off there for as long as you like. The packer then returns to pick
up you and your gear.
With a Backpack Drop you and your backpacking equipment are taken into the back country
and left to proceed on your own backpacking trip. It's a great way to jump-start a backpacking trip.
On a Base Camp Trip you are packed in with your personal equipment to a base camp set up by
the packer/guide. Meals, tents, and other group equipment are provided.
Other types of trips are also available to suit your needs.
Call, Email, or Stop By for Reservations
530-495-2196 ~or~ firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, see Leavitt Meadows Pack Station.