Leavitt Meadow Pack Station Provides Quality Trip into Hoover Wilderness for Visitors and Guests
Leavitt’s Meadow, Sonora Pass Ca – So does hiking 12 miles round trip seems a bit excessive to you? How about riding a horse and enjoying the backcountry all the same? Plus the Pack Horse can carry all you favorite items, fishing poles, tents, games, etc… Sound a little easier? Well, of course. I run into people all the time asking me where to go and enjoy the Sierra, however often they don’t really want to hike 6, 10, 15 miles to see some of these amazing location. Backcountry pack trips used to be a very common adventure in the Eastern Sierra. But speaking with the team at Leavitt Meadow pack station this last week, we found out that pack stations and pack guides are a dying breed of sorts. Seems like many have learned to fear a horse instead embracing the gifts that they offer in our adventurous explorations.
When I first was introduced to Craig at Leavitt Meadow Pack Station, he was looking to get the word out on an upcoming 4-5 day backcountry All inclusive Trip to Fremont Lake in the High Sierra. Fremont Lake is known as a great high sierra fishing destination, for those willing to travel 8.5 miles in by backpack enjoy some of the finest Mountain Lake Fishing in the High Sierra. (By the way at the time of this article Craig still has several spots open for this trip and is willing to give our readers a huge savings if they book this week) When Craig and I spoke , the passion for helping people see the backcountry around Leavitt Meadow and the Hoover Wilderness was so evident. He kept talking about the beauty and the difference of seeing this country on horseback. So when we started to finish our conversation and Craig invited me and my wife up to experience the ride ourselves, I just had to go and explore.
Leavitt Meadow Pack Station is located about a mile past Leavitt Meadow Campground on HWY 108 (Sonora Pass) , Located just off the road, I’m certain many have driven right by it and wondered what the story was at this location. Craig, come to find out has worked at this Pack Station since he was twelve years old and now owns the Pack Station and runs it alongside his son Matt and several local guides that spend their entire year helping people experience the backcountry of Hoover Wilderness and Leavitt Meadows. They offer guided pack trips into Roosevelt, Lane, Secret, Poore and Fremont Lakes daily and offer longer Lake trip as far back as Dorothy Lake and Tower Peaks at the Northern Edges of Yosemite National Park.
On our day trip adventure, Matt (Craig’s Son) & Eric were our guides for the 2-hour Roosevelt and Lane Lake trip. I have hiked all over the Sierra and Sonora Pass is so unique and beautiful. It has this rugged, untamed element to the landscape that is so appealing to me. The Leavitt Meadow is surrounded by high peaks and the sparse forests that scatter the mountain side are filled with ponderosa pines, fir and aspen trees. By Horse the meadow and the mountains took on an entirely different feel. Crossing the West Walker river on horseback and winding through the meadow of lush spring grass was so relaxing as you watched the mountain landscape come closer into view. This year we are blessed with snow patch peaks all around the Leavitt Meadow and the water in the West Walker is flowing at a pace that I would not try to cross by foot.
As we approached the mountains, I wondered what it was going to be like riding on my Horse (Racer) along the rough granite laced trails of the Sierra. Sure footed animals these horses are, of course, they are well trained and know these trails so well, as Craig and his teams have the horses out on the trails daily. We climbed along the ridge , over several rocky areas that our horses handled like champs. We winded through a lush aspen grove and some large ponderosa pines as we made our way back to Roosevelt Lake. You Enter the Hoover wilderness about half way back on the trail. Sharing a border with the Yosemite Wilderness along the Sierra crest, the Hoover is widely known for its extreme mountain terrain. Its forests are composed of scattered groves of hemlock, pine, aspen, and cottonwood. Diverse wildflowers spread over the intermittent meadows found here and black bears are common.
When you first come upon Roosevelt Lake the first thing that caught my attention was the crisp color of blue that hits you coming out of the forest and up against the mountains surrounding the lake. Roosevelt Lake is a great day hike in for fisherman in this region and is known for producing great Rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout. Our Guides, let it be known however the best fish are caught by those who can bring in a float tube and don’t have to rely on shore fishing. Roosevelt lake is also a place where backpackers will often hike into their first night on multi-day backpacking adventures in the area. Craig’s team offers a day trip experience to the lakes or will pack you in with your gear, drop you off for a night or two and then come back in to carry your out also.
Lane Lake is directly behind Roosevelt Lake by a couple hundred yards at most. They look like they share a stream with each other, but I could not tell by horseback. Lane looks a bit larger than Roosevelt lake and has a great backdrop of the mountain of the Hoover Wilderness Behind it as you approach on the south side during your ride. It looked to me that the section between the two lakes was also the best place to pitch a tent for the evening.
On this two-hour pack adventure with Leavitt Meadow Pack team, Lane lake was also our turn-around location, speaking with friends who just took this pack
trip back a bit further to Waterfalls and Fremont Lake and say the beauty only gets more impressive as you continue to ride further into the Hoover wilderness. We will have to come back to do that next time. (My wife is pretty adamant that this needs to happen soon) As we head back to the meadow, I found myself enjoying the backcountry so much more than when I usually hike. The fatigue I usually feel was replaced by laughter and a peaceful experience that was really cool for me. Don’t get me wrong, hiking has its bonuses also, but there was this great feeling of trusting the horse to do the trail and me just letting the experience of the wilderness soak in a bit.
Back at the meadow and crossing the West Walker river again and seeing the pack station in sight was a cool experience. Both my wife and I knew we would be coming back as the trip was so much more than we expected and our guides Matt and Eric really made the trip feel safe and enjoyable. My wife will ask for Her horse “Atticus” again if possible, she thinks they are lifetime friends now. (She was a beautiful Black horse that knew how to treat a lady)
I hope to make it back to Fremont Lake on our next trip and maybe in the future book a multi-day adventure to the backside of Yosemite National Park. I think it might be cool to pack into Dorothy Lake then hike from there to Tuolumne National Park so time. If you consider trying out this Pack Station Craig and his team offer three basic Trail Ride packages and four basic types of Pack experiences to choose from but will also help you create your very own backcountry experience. Recommended you call for reservations for all trip experiences, but Craig will get you out on a stop by if they can on any given day. Trips can last from 1 to 4 hours on a typical trail experience and all ages 6 and above are welcome on the trail.
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