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: -119.563

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Leavitt Falls was an attractive multi-tiered waterfall tumbling several hundred feet that was essentially a roadside stop.

It was one of the more convenient waterfalls to visit because all that was required was a short jaunt to a lookout to experience it.

Leavitt_Falls_003_07042002 - Leavitt Falls
Leavitt 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 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, Leavitt Falls and all of the relevant sights here were quite figuritively handed to us on a silver platter.

Leavitt_Falls_018_06242016 - Looking across the Leavitt Meadow from the Leavitt Falls Vista
Looking across the Leavitt Meadow from the Leavitt Falls Vista

So 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!

Trying to seek a way to get closer to Leavitt Falls

With such a distant view of Leavitt Falls, it was natural to try to seek out a way to get closer to it.

Since we had to do so little to experience the sights and sounds of Leavitt Falls, I could see evidence of other people that were tempted to scramble around for such alternate views.

Apparently, some have even tried to find a way to access the bottom of the falls nestled within a box canyon.

Leavitt_Falls_072_06242016 - I followed this path that went past some picnic tables before degenerating into pretty much an off-trail scramble
I followed this path that went past some picnic tables before degenerating into pretty much an off-trail scramble

Out of curiosity, I followed one informal trail that continued past a couple of picnic tables on the far side of the small parking area.

It eventually went to a suboptimal view of the main drop of Leavitt Falls.

Indeed, from looking at where some of the footprints were going, it was clear that it wasn’t a very sane thing to do to try to get any closer to the falls.

After all, the steepness of the terrain and the lack of improved views (the main overlook really was the best spot to take it all in) just seemed like too much risk for too little reward.

Leavitt_Falls_067_06242016 - My attempt at an alternate view of Leavitt Falls pretty much stopped here
My attempt at an alternate view of Leavitt Falls pretty much stopped here

Truth be told, it wasn’t worth the extra time or effort in my mind.


Leavitt Falls resides in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Bridgeport in Mono County, California. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Leavitt_Falls_001_06242016 - Approaching the well-built lookout deck for Leavitt Falls after parking the car
Leavitt_Falls_006_06242016 - Focused on Leavitt Falls as seen in July 2016
Leavitt_Falls_014_06242016 - Broad morning look at Leavitt Falls during our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Falls_020_06242016 - Looking towards the head of Leavitt Meadow from the vista during our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Falls_021_06242016 - Full contextual view of Leavitt Falls and its mountain as seen during our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Falls_022_06242016 - Zoomed out look at Leavitt Falls revealing an upper tier as seen from July 2016
Leavitt_Falls_030_06242016 - Contextual broad look at Leavitt Falls as seen from the vista during our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Falls_039_06242016 - Mom checking out Leavitt Falls from the nice lookout deck
Leavitt_Falls_053_06242016 - Context of Leavitt Falls juxtaposed with part of Leavitt Meadow to the left
Leavitt_Falls_058_06242016 - Context of the Leavitt Falls Vista lookout deck with the scenery it was overlooking
Leavitt_Falls_045_06242016 - Looking east towards drier terrain from the observation deck at Leavitt Falls
Leavitt_Falls_046_06242016 - Full contextual view towards Leavitt Meadow showing some of the cliff context below in the foreground as seen from our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Falls_060_06242016 - Exploring one of the scrambling paths that explored other ways to experience Leavitt Falls
Leavitt_Falls_062_06242016 - That path led me to a degenerating scramble in search of an alternate access to Leavitt Falls in July 2016
Leavitt_Falls_063_06242016 - Looking across at Leavitt Meadow from the degenerate scrambling path that I explored
Leavitt_Falls_073_06242016 - Checking out the nice picnic area by the Leavitt Falls Vista during our July 2016 visit
Leavitt_Meadow_014_07042002 - Looking east towards the barren expanse of the Eastern Sierra from a pullout by the steep hairpin turn (that my Dad's MPV really struggled to climb) on the way to the Leavitt Falls Vista. This goes to show you how much the scenery changes the further east you go
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_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 back in July 2002
Leavitt_Falls_002_07042002 - The full context of Leavitt Falls from the falls overlook
Leavitt_Meadow_006_07042002 - Another look towards the head of Leavitt Meadow from the vista lookout in July 2002

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).

Leavitt_Falls_071_06242016 - Context of the picnic area and the parking area at the Leavitt Falls Vista
Context of the picnic area and the parking area at the Leavitt Falls Vista

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.

Find A Place To Stay

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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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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