There are 6 trans-Sierra highways of which only three are all season roads. Leavitt Peak is a broad rounded peak located near Sonora Pass on California State Route 108, one of the 3 trans-Sierra routes closed during the winter. There are several peaks in the area that can be summited in a day or less, but Leavitt is the highest. It is located south of the pass in the Emigrant Wilderness and is a nice side trip for those traveling the Pacific Crest Trail. Leavitt offers views south towards Yosemite and North towards the South Tahoe high country. Summer weekends can be a busy time in this area with quite a few people making the summit
From the east the summit / trailhead parking area is approximately 14 miles west of the juntion of U.S. 395 and CA State Route 108.
From the west the parking area is approximaetly 50 miles east of Sonora, CA on State Route 108.
There are no permits required for day hiking in the Emigrant Wilderness or parking at the trailhead. A Wilderness Permit is need if camping in the Emmigrant Wilderness. An online permit form for a Wilderness Permit is a available. Permits can also be obtained from any Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Office. The Mi-Wok and Summit offices are located along CA State Route 108. Only one permit is needed for continuous trips passing through more than one wilderness area. Only one permit is needed per group up to 15 people. If you plan on using a stove, even if on a day hike, a fire permit is required and can be picked up at any U.S. Forest Service office. The fire permit is good for the entire state of California.
When To Climb
The best time to climb is generally June through September. The pass is usually closed from 7 miles east of Strawberry to 5 miles west of the junction with U.S. 395, from the first significant fall / winter snowfall until late spring. Memorial Day is the usual target date for opening the pass. Some years it has been earlier and some years later.
Camping is allowed in the Emigrant Wilderness with the proper permit. There are several Forest service campgrounds nearby that are free for camping. The catch is there is no water available. Further down from the pass in both directions are regular Forest Service fee campgrouds. There are also a couple of stores and restaurants fairly close to the west at Kennedy Meadows and Dardanelles.
General area conditions can be found by calling the U.S. Forest Service, Summit Ranger District Office at 1-209-965-3434. State Route 108 Road Conditions can be found online or by phoning the California Dept. of Transportation Road Conditions number at 1-800-427-7623
"Hiram L. Leavitt built a hostelry in 1863 at the foot of the east end of Sonora Pass to serve the traffic between Sonora and Aurora. (Maule.) Leavitt was also an early Mono County Judge. (Farquhar from Judge Parker, Bridgeport, 1928.) "Leavitt's" (for the peak) is on Hoffmann's map of 1873 and the Wheeler Survey atlas sheet 56D, 1878-79. On the 1875 GLO plat, the creek is called 'West Fork of West Walker River.' The meadow is mentioned by name by Lt. Macomb in 1878. The peak, creek, and meadow have their present names on the first Dardanelles 30' map, 1898. The other names do not appear until the 15-minute quad, 1956."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
JUST TO CLARIFY; LEAVITT LAKE AND THE LEAVITT LAKE ROAD ARE MANAGED BY THE HUMBOLDT-TOIYABE NATIONAL FOREST NOT THE STANISLAUS NATIONAL FOREST. THE CLOSEST RANGER DISTRICT IS IN BRIDGEPORT JUST OFF HWY.395. THEIR PHONE NUMBER IS 760-932-7070. FOR THE MOST CURRENT ROAD INFORMATION BIDGEPORT SHOULD BE CONTACTED AS THEY DO NOT ALWAYS NOTIFY THE SUMMIT RANGER DISTRICT WHEN CONDITIONS CHANGE. ALSO, LEAVITT LAKE IS IN THE HOOVER WILDERNESS NOT THE EMIGRANT WILDERNESS HOWEVER, MANY HIKERS TRAVELING TO THE EMIGRANT WILDERNESS DO ACCESS THROUGH LEAVITT LAKE. ALTHOUGH THE SUMMIT RANGER DISTRCT CAN ISSUE WILDERNESS PERMITS FOR THIS AREA, THE LEAVITT MEADOWS TRAILHEAD HAS A "SELF-SERVICE" PERMIT STATION AS DOES THE BRIDGEPORT RANGER DISTRICT.