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Three Days in the Hoover Wilderness- A great beginners backpack trip out of Leavitt Meadow

Hoover Wilderness Backpacking From Leavitt Meadow

Sonora Pass – Leavitt Meadow Ca, – Sonora Pass is known for its rugged steep drive over the Sierra. The vista-view points, access to the PCT  and various backcountry lakes and hikes.  However, for a true experience of Sonora pass a backpacking trip into the Hoover Wilderness provides an excellent taste of the rugged beauty of this Sierra Mountain Region. A day hike or horseback ride into the Hoover Wilderness and several close lakes is also rewarding.
The 3.5-mile hike from Leavitt Meadow to Lane Lake can be done in less than 2 hours. Lane Lake and its sister Roosevelt Lake offer good fishing and comfortable campsites with views of the lakes. This easy hike makes a great backpacking outing on which to bring children and introduce them to the wilderness.
The backpacking hike begins at the Leavitt Meadow Campground and heads up Leavitt Meadow. After a couple of miles, the trail climbs 400 feet to a ridge at 7,500′ and then drops to the two gorgeous mountain lakes.
Recently I spoke with a group of Ladies from the Carson Valley which took a three-day adventure hike/backpacking trip into the Hoover Wilderness out of Leavitt Meadow last summer on the East Side of the Sierra to visit a handful of scenic lakes, streams, and vistas. Here is a photo journey of their trip.

Hiking Guide to Lane Lake and the Hoover Wilderness

Getting Organized

Wilderness Permits for the backpacking trip to Lane Lake can be picked up at the Summit Ranger Station near Pinecrest on the west side of the Sierra or at the Bridgeport Ranger Station just south of Bridgeport. Permits may also be obtained at the self-serve kiosk at the trailhead parking lot immediately south of the Leavitt Meadow Campground.

Starting the Hike

Hike down through the campground to the bridge and then up the slight hill. At the trail junction turn right and follow the trail down into Leavitt Meadow. Water is typically scarce here in late summer unless you want to scramble down to the Walker River below in the meadow.  If your hiking in 2017 you might find more water than normal for this experience. Always go prepared to carry enough water or to carry a water filter to refill water packs.

The Heart of the Hike


Lane Lake

After two miles of fairly level hiking up the meadow, the trail swings uphill. At times it is steep, but you soon arrive at a trail junction, marking the end of the uphill. Turn right there and follow the trail downhill to Roosevelt Lake. The trail skirts the lake and quickly arrives at Lane Lake. Fishing is good in both lakes. I have done this portion via horseback also with the pack station out of Leavitt Meadow. This is a great way to experience this section of the trail if you are not into hiking but does not allow you the luxury of spending the day at the lake.


There are campsites around Roosevelt Lake, but the sites on Lane Lake are more secluded. Look on the southern side of the lake for more secluded locations. In the summer these lakes are a popular destination, but a little poking around on the far shores turns up good sites for a tent.

Other Destinations in the Hoover Wilderness

From Lane and Roosevelt Lake, you can set out on day trips to Poore Lake, Secret Lake, Fremont Lake, Piute Meadows and explore the bank’s of the west walker river and all its sources.  On this backpacking trip, the ladies reached the West Walker on the way to Fremont only to be turned around because the waterfalls and river were had high points and the crossing was not safe. An early adventure this year will likely be even harder to reach Fremont given the increased run-off.

Beyond the Day Trip

If you looking to explore deeper into the Hoover Wilderness, access to many great lakes and vista await your adventurous spirit. You can even find your way into the Northside of Yosemite National Park from this trail system. Speaking with the Pack team at Leavitt’s Meadow Pack Station, which is another way to explore this great wilderness area, many will hire the pack team to take them back as far as Dorothy Lake and Dorothy pass at the Northern Rim of Yosemite. Again in 2017 this trip is delayed because of snow pack, might be a snowshoe route, however not recommended for the average explorer.

Roosevelt Lake
Roosevelt Lake

Beyond Fremont Lake adventurers journey’s take Backpackers and Horse “trail” riders to the Chain of Lakes, Long Lakes, The PCT, Bonnie Lake,  Lake Harriet, Lake Helen and Dorothy Lake.

The Fishing

The West Walker and the Lakes out of Leavitt’s Meadow and the Hoover Wilderness are well known local hot spots for backcountry fishing.   Although you can find exclusive locations in the wilderness, it is not uncommon to see multiple people over the course of your day trip or several day backpacking trips at a mountain lake, pole in hand.  Leavitt’s Meadow Pack Station told us one of their most used services are fishers who have their camp set and float tubes packed by horse and then stay at the various mountain lakes fishing for 3-5 days before being picked up by a guide for the trip out.
Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout are the most common fish found in these mountain lakes. The Forest Service has a great fishing guide for the Eastern Sierra to help identify the types of fish in each area.


Roosevelt Lake in the Hoover Wilderness off Sonora Pass. Riding with the Leavitt Meadow Pack Station team.

Additional Sonora Pass Resources for Rec can be found here
Sonora Pass, Leavitt Meadow, and the Hoover Wilderness experience is one we recommend for all who visit the east side of the Sierra. The Hoover Wilderness can also be accessed via Lundy Canyon near Mono Lake, both routes are great fall hikes with lots of colors.
Go explore and enjoy the Sierra.
Photo Credit:  Amy Schelert of the Carson Valley

Sierra REC Magazine is dedicated to sharing the events, news and adventure opportunities that exist in The Sierra Mountains. From Lassen Volcanic National Park to the North down through the Central Sierra and the Lake Tahoe Basin through the rugged eastern slopes of the Mono County and Yosemite National Park to the southern tips near Sequoia National Park and the PCT trail. We invite you to share stories, tips and photos from your adventures in the  Sierra. Please join us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle +  and You-Tube or email us your events and photos at  #goexplore


About the author

Charlie REC magazine - Charlie Pankey ~ Publisher

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  • […] Roosevelt / Lane Lake – Off Sonora Pass & Leavitt Meadow – Approx. 23 miles West of Bridgeport Ca off HWY 108 Sonora Pass is a trailhead that leads back into the Hoover Wilderness. The trail access is located behind Leavitt Meadows Campground and gives hikers several options for hikes. Our favorites for families is Rossevelt/ Lane Lakes. The 3.5-mile hike from Leavitt Meadow to Lane Lake can be done in less than 2 hours. Lane Lake and its sister Roosevelt Lake offer good fishing and comfortable campsites with views of the lakes. This easy hike makes a great backpacking outing on which to bring children and introduce them to the wilderness. […]

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