The Leavitt Lake trailhead offers the shortest access to the Sierra high country of the eastern Emigrant Wilderness and northern Hoover Wilderness Areas. However, the trailhead is only accessible with an SUV with high clearance and 4-wheel drive. It's a 3 mile drive to Leavitt Lake from Hwy 108 on a pretty rough dirt road with a couple of seasonal shallow stream crossings. (Do not attempt this with a car.)
There are a couple of picnic tables and a few established camp sites at Leavitt Lake, but no other facilities of any kind. Drinking water must be filtered from the lake.
Trailhead parking is free and located on the north side of the lake.
Leavitt Lake road is located 3.8 miles east of the Sonora Pass off of CA Hwy 108 on the south side of the highway. There was no sign to mark the road the last time I was there, so you need to watch carefully for it. The dirt road is located near the apex of a curve in Hwy 108 that points to the south. It's the only road in that immediate area.
Follow the dirt road approximately 3 miles south until you reach Leavitt Lake.
AccessibilityPlease note that Hwy 108 at Sonora Pass is closed in winter.
The pass does not usually open until some time in May, depending on the amount of snow fall each year.
Also keep in mind that Leavitt Lake road is not plowed and often holds snow into July. Call the ranger stations listed below to see if the road is passable.
Click here for Hwy 108 road conditions
There are two primary trails leading from Leavitt Lake.
1) Leavitt Pass trail, an old mining road, heads south along the eastern shore of Leavitt Lake and ascends the ridge south of the lake where it merges briefly with the Pacific Crest Trail. You can follow the PCT down Kennedy Canyon into the Hoover Wilderness Area, or continue on the mining road up and over Big Sam to the Emigrant Wilderness Area.
2) There is a trail that heads northwest from the trailhead to Koenig and Latopie Lakes. From Latopie Lake, it's only 1/4 mile to the PCT (off-trail) and less than 1 mile to Leavitt Peak.
You do not need a wilderness permit to camp overnight at Leavitt Lake, because it is not located in a wilderness area. However, a free wilderness permit is required for overnight stays in both the Emigrant Wilderness and Hoover Wilderness Areas.
Call the Summit ranger station at (209) 965-3434 near Pinecrest ahead of time and they will prepare a permit for you in advance, or the Bridgeport Ranger Station at 760-932-7070 if traveling from the east.
Call the Summit ranger station for current conditions. They can be reached at (209) 965-3434.
The following links provide additional information on local conditions.
Hwy 108 road conditions
Weather report for Bridgeport
Weather report for Pinecrest
of the Stansislaus National Forest.