Leavitt Falls

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest / Sonora Pass / Mono County, California, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 1
Leavitt Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Leavitt Falls was an attractive multi-tiered waterfall that was essentially a roadside stop. The first time we came up here, we took Dad's now-defunct MPV up here from Mammoth, which struggled with the steep inclines on the Sonora Pass Highway. On a more recent visit, this place was a convenient stop for us after doing the hike to the nearby Sardine Falls. The viewing deck afforded us a distant view of all the tiers of the waterfall itself while also giving us a commanding view of Leavitt Meadow further downstream of the falls. We were even able to glimpse the drier terrain further to the east as the climate was making its dramatic change from lush alpine scenery to the west to the much drier and harsher climate to the east. It was as if we were right at the boundary of where the Eastern Sierra would take most of the precipitation of passing storms from the Pacific while leaving a drier rainshadow on the mountain range's leeward side. Indeed, given that all of the relevant sights here were handed to us on a silver platter (so to speak), this was really a place to have a picnic, stretch the legs, and even make a FaceTime call as we were getting surprisingly good reception at this spot!

Since we had to do so little to experience the sights and sounds of Leavitt Falls, I could see people were tempted to scramble around for alternate views or to even find a way to access the bottom of the falls nestled within a box canyon. But from looking at where some of the footprints were going, it was clear that it wasn't a very sane thing to do due to the steepness of the terrain and the lack of improved views (the overlook really was the best spot to take it all in). There was one informal trail that I followed (out of curiosity) that continued past a couple of picnic tables on the far side of the small parking area, but that turned out to lead to a suboptimal view of the main drop of Leavitt Falls. Truth be told, it wasn't worth the extra time or effort in my mind.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Looking across the entirety of Leavitt Meadow in the morning from the vista pointLooking across the entirety of Leavitt Meadow in the morning from the vista point
On the way to Bridgeport (which was before Leavitt Falls as we headed north), an access road led east to the well-preserved and very popular ghost town of BodieOn the way to Bridgeport (which was before Leavitt Falls as we headed north), an access road led east to the well-preserved and very popular ghost town of Bodie
On the drive up to Sonora Pass, we passed by the attractive Mono Lake ith its tufa formations (especially at the South Tufa Reserve) near Lee ViningOn the drive up to Sonora Pass, we passed by the attractive Mono Lake ith its tufa formations (especially at the South Tufa Reserve) near Lee Vining
Looking towards Leavitt Meadow from a pullout at the steep hairpin turn just before the Leavitt Falls vistaLooking towards Leavitt Meadow from a pullout at the steep hairpin turn just before the falls vista

View of Leavitt Falls from the falls overlookView of the falls from the overlook

Approaching the well-built lookout deck for Leavitt Falls after parking the carApproaching the well-built lookout deck for Leavitt Falls after parking the car

Mom checking out Leavitt Falls from the nice lookout deckMom checking out the falls from the nice lookout deck

Context of Leavitt Falls juxtaposed with part of Leavitt Meadow to the leftContext of the falls juxtaposed with part of Leavitt Meadow to the left

Context of the lookout deck with the scenery it was overlookingContext of the lookout deck with the scenery it was overlooking

Looking east towards drier terrain from the observation deckLooking east towards drier terrain from the observation deck

The full context of Leavitt Falls from the falls overlookThe full context of the falls from the overlook

I noticed this trail-of-use beyond this picnic table and took a look to see where it wentI noticed this trail-of-use beyond this picnic table and took a look to see where it went

That trail-of-use led to this suboptimal (and precarious) view of the main drop of Leavitt FallsThat trail-of-use led to this suboptimal (and precarious) view of the main drop of the falls

For a trip down memory lane, here was the view of Leavitt Meadow from the observation deck back in July 2002For a trip down memory lane, here was the view of Leavitt Meadow from the observation deck back in July 2002

Looking east towards the barren expanse of the Eastern Sierra from a pullout by the steep hairpin turn as we headed backLooking east towards the barren expanse of the Eastern Sierra from a pullout by the steep hairpin turn as we headed back


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Back and forth sweep panning along the trajectory of the water at the falls before panning over to Leavitt Meadow then panning back to the falls at the conclusion


Examining Leavitt Falls from an unsanctioned viewing spot at the end of a trail past a couple of picnic tables


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

In our first visit here, we did it as an out-and-back driving excursion from Mammoth Lakes, which is how I'd imagine most people would make this visit given that Mammoth seemed to be a logical base for much of this part of the Eastern Sierras. It took us about an hour to drive 54 miles on the Hwy 395 from Mammoth north to Bridgeport. Heading north from Bridgeport we continued along Hwy 395 for just under 17 miles to its junction with the Sonora Pass Highway (Hwy 108). Turning left onto Hwy 108, we then drove for about 8.5 miles as the road passed some kind of military base before climbing steeply eventually leading up to the signposted turnoff for "Leavitt Falls Vista" on the left.

Coming from the opposite direction from say South Lake Tahoe, we drove 85 miles via a combination of Hwy 207 then Hwy 395 to the Sonora Pass Highway turnoff on the right. Then we followed Hwy 108 to the roadside vista as described above.

To give you some geographical context, Mammoth Lakes was 310 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles and 139 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) south of South Lake Tahoe.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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