Place Name: Mono County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 11,569 Feet
Prominence: 2,049 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,993 Feet
Lists: Western States Climber's Emblem, Sierra Sampler, Sierra Peak Section, Vagmarken Sierra Crest
An Easy Stroll Along The PCT
Leavitt Peak is reached by an easy stroll through volcanic terrain along the PCT south of Sonora Pass in the Emigrant Wilderness.
- Easy trail
- Lots of parking
- High start elevation
- Open terrain, exposed to sun
- Moderate trail traffic on weekend
- Smoky conditions on my trip
Sonora Pass is home to quite a bit of beautiful country and high elevation peaks. It’s the most furthest north you will find any Sierra peak over 11,000 feet. One such peak is Leavitt Peak, which also boasts over 2,000 feet of prominence, making it this a must bag summit!
The trail head to Leavitt Peak is easy to find. Just take Highway 108 to the top of Sonora Pass and park at the Pacific Crest Trail Head. There is ample parking and pit toilets.
Crossing the highway to the south you will find the start of the trail. There are no signs pointing you the way to the peak. If you head north on the PCT, you can hike up Sonora Peak.
This trail is pretty easy. Cross Highway 108 and follow the PCT south. The PCT meanders around this lower valley before gaining the ridge just north of Margaret Lewis Peak and the boundary of the Emigrant Wilderness.
Once at the wilderness sign, you finally get your first views of Leavitt Peak. At this point, you are almost halfway to the summit.
The trail is fairly flat through this section as it follows the west side of Peak 11245.
Eventually you will crest another pass and drop back over the east side of the ridge. Highway 108 will come back into view on your left and Latopie Peak will tower above you on the right. The trail loses some elevation here before heading up and through a small opening in the volcanic ridge.
After crossing through, the trail heads west below a volcanic ridge line and Latopie Lake sits below you to the right. There is a nice trail down to the lake as well.
Follow the PCT to a small rocky gully and a little trail that heads into it, that is the use trail towards Leavitt Peak.
Climbing up the gully is quick and easy and leaves you staring across a deep bowl towards Leavitt Peak. From here the route is obvious, head left and up the ridge to the summit. If that’s not easy enough, there is a well defined use trail all the way to the summit.
Gaining the summit is quite easy on a class 1 trail. The summit area is very large and broad and covered in clanky sounding talus. Very easy walking. Try to find the high point as there are a few competing spots. The register was located under a rock pile.
On a clear day, views would extend over 150 miles to the Bay Area Peaks like Mount Diablo and Mount Saint Helena. On this day, smoke cut my view down to about 10 miles.
Margaret Lewis Peak
There are a couple of bonus peaks that can be added to Leavitt Peak. I decided to only go for one and tagged Margaret Lewis Peak on the way back. There is a class 2 volcanic outcropping at the top that marks the summit and nice views over to Sonora Peak and Stanislaus Peak.
The Final Word
If you are looking for a nice beginners hike with moderate distance and gain that gets you over 11,000 feet, you have come to the right place. The hiking is never difficult and the terrain is unique. It reminds me a lot of the PCT section I hiked on the way to Raymond Peak last year.
Latopie Lake would be a very quick detour and Leavitt Lake can also be hiked on this trail.
I highly enjoyed my trip out to Leavitt Peak and would highly recommend it!