About Leavitt Falls
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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