A Quick trip of Sonora Pass Provides Insight on Snow and Recreational Opportunities Summer 2023
Sonora Pass Ca. – June 12, 2023 – Maybe Summer is finally here in the Sierra Nevada. This past week in the Sierra most of the Sierra Scenic Routes over the pass opened (All Accept Tioga Pas 120) giving recreational travelers access to the back country and all it offers summer travel enthusiasts each year. We had the opportunity to change out vacation travel plans on Saturday and travel from Sonora Ca. to Minden Nv via the Sonora Pass scenic Byway and highway 108. Originally when we started out trip last week neither Ebbetts (Hwy 4) or Sonora were open and we would be traveling Highway 88. But we got word Friday afternoon that the pass had opened and were excited to change plans and see how the road and snow conditions would play out for our trip.
Sonora Pass is such a beautiful drive. On the West side heading into the pass you travel through nonstop National forest land and small mountain communities such as Pinecrest and Strawberry which are great summer destinations. From the start out of Sonora you are climbing, but once you hit Kennedy Meadows the real climb begins with a grade as steep as 25% awaiting drivers.
To our delight there was Zero snow all the ay up to Kennedy meadows camping areas and we saw plenty of fisherman and campsites filled even after a short notice opening up in this region. Just before Kennedy Meadows we stopped at the Donnell Lake Vista for a quick stretch and photo opp. the Waterfall action coming into the lake was insane . There are Waterfalls cascading into the lake from every angle. The time to go is now and you should really stop and walk the entire loop to see all the water action. regardless of when you go this vista location is a must stop and enjoy the deep glacial canyon lands of this region.
After Kenney Meadows, the climb quickly gets you up to the snow where Deadman Creek is peaking through in some areas but in others still lies under 4-5 feet of snow. The peak itself still has 8 feet of snow and the parking area is still buried. Then once you pass the peak the snow carries on maybe 3 miles or so after the peak, just past the road to Leavitt Lake. After that the greenery from the various meadows and aspens is starting to come in and the Leavitt Waterfall is a must stop as it is booming as expected. Levitt meadow is a bit flooded but very green and the Leavitt Meadow Pack station has horses in the stall but we have yet to be able to confirm they are open for business. the river looks pretty big for crossing still. But the snow is out of the meadow and looks like travels back to Roosevelt and Lane lake might be snow free.
We are seeing similar reports for Ebbett’s pass with Mosquito Lake still under snow and plenty of water flowing in Pacific Creek. Kinney Reservoir is also snow packed at this time.
How to Enjoy a Weird Snow Year in the High Sierra
Ok we are just going to call this a weird year. It is mid June and you could easily ski, snowshoe and hike all in the same day on our Sierra By pass highways.
So here is a quick list of Ways to enjoy the summer of 2023:
- Pack a picnic and enjoy the vista points
- Snowshoe or Ski the backcountry that you never have great access to.
- Photograph trip to see seasonal Waterfalls and high river marks
- Camping – there are Camp spots on Sonora Pass at least and the Yuba Pass that are open and ready to be used.
- Hiking with winter traction options.
- Backpacking in the snow?
Of course anytime you are traveling on snow this late in the year you must beware of snow bridges over running water you cant see or over a body of water you cant see.