After a night in Bridgeport, California, we continued north in search of more Fall color. The guidebook suggested Leavitt Meadow, just north of Bridgeport, as a likely color spot, so we went there. This is another popular hiking and fishing location, so there were several vehicles already in the lot when we pulled-in. After a little orienteering, we found the West Walker Trail Trailhead at the north end of the now closed-for-the-season Leavitt Meadows Campground, along with a spiffy new bridge over the West Walker River. Judging from the dents in its superstructure and the scour around its abutments, the old bridge (decommissioned but still standing) had been set just a little too close to the river’s surface.
After crossing the bridge, we struck due south along the east side of Leavitt Meadow on the West Walker River Trail (USFS #046). It soon became clear that most of the color was confined to trees near the river and that we weren’t going to have another intense color experience like we’d had in Lundy Canyon.
The trail runs almost level for two miles along the meadow before starting a gradual climb toward Roosevelt Lake. Near the end of the meadow, our hiker trail was joined by a horse trail coming in from the pack station across the river. Things got a little dustier.
There were a few more splashes of color as we went toward the lake. Along in here we crossed into the wilderness, where an sign informed us that we were walking on what once was the West Walker-Sonora Road (also called the Walker River Trail). Following it was such a difficult proposition that primarily only gold-crazed miners made any use of it after 1854. In most places no traces of the old “road” remain, but parts of it are preserved in the Hoover and Emigrant Wilderness areas. Thus we could experience the “road” much as the pioneers did. Hmmm. Well, it’s a good hike but we had trouble wrapping our heads around trying to follow it with a wagon.
Just over three miles from the trailhead, we reached Roosevelt Lake.
After a snack at the lake, we headed back to where the Secret Lake Trail (USFS #047) departs from the West Walker River Trail. We decided to take the #047 back not realizing that, unlike the nearly flat trail we’d come in on, this one goes up and down along the ridge above Leavitt Meadow. Ah, more exercise. But it does have different views than the river trail and we got to visit Secret Lake.
This hike (7.2 miles round-trip; 1,300 feet of elevation gain) didn’t offer-up the exuberant Fall color that we found at Lundy Canyon. Still, it was on trails in an area new to us, there were lakes to enjoy, and some nice views here and there. The weather was excellent and there were only a few people (and some horses) on the trails.
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