Leavitt Falls

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

About Leavitt Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2002-07-04
Date last visited: 2016-06-24

Waterfall Latitude: 38.31903
Waterfall Longitude: -119.55946

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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.

Leavitt_Falls_006_06242016 - Focused look at all the main tiers of Leavitt Falls from the official lookout
Focused look at all the main tiers of Leavitt Falls from the official lookout

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 in 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.

Leavitt_Falls_053_06242016 - Context of Leavitt Falls and Leavitt Meadow
Context of Leavitt Falls and Leavitt Meadow

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.


Leavitt Falls resides in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. For information or inquiries about the reserve as well as current conditions, visit the USDA website or their Facebook page.

Leavitt_Meadow_013_07042002 - Looking towards Leavitt Meadow from a pullout at the steep hairpin turn just before the Leavitt Falls vista
Leavitt_Falls_007_07042002 - View of Leavitt Falls from the falls overlook
Leavitt_Falls_001_06242016 - Approaching the well-built lookout deck for Leavitt Falls after parking the car
Leavitt_Falls_039_06242016 - Mom checking out Leavitt Falls from the nice lookout deck
Leavitt_Falls_058_06242016 - Context of the lookout deck with the scenery it was overlooking
Leavitt_Falls_045_06242016 - Looking east towards drier terrain from the observation deck
Leavitt_Falls_002_07042002 - The full context of Leavitt Falls from the falls overlook
Leavitt_Falls_072_06242016 - I noticed this trail-of-use beyond this picnic table and took a look to see where it went
Leavitt_Falls_067_06242016 - That trail-of-use led to this suboptimal (and precarious) view of the main drop of Leavitt Falls
Leavitt_Meadow_003_07042002 - For a trip down memory lane, here was the view of Leavitt Meadow from the observation deck back in July 2002
Leavitt_Meadow_014_07042002 - Looking east towards the barren expanse of the Eastern Sierra from a pullout by the steep hairpin turn as we headed back


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.

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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Tagged with: humbolt, toiyabe, mono, sonora pass, bridgeport, sierra, eastern sierra, california, waterfall, lee vining, leavitt meadow

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