Crossing the Sonora Pass

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Have you driven or ventured across the Sonora pass? The Sonora pass is believed to have been established in 1841 from the Walker river on the Nevada side, to Clark Fork on the Stanislaus river on the California side, travelers followed the rivers into California and the San Joaquin Valley. Today’s Highway 108 follows a similar route and is also part of the original trails of Bret Harte and Mark Twain. The peak of the pass on hwy 108 is approximately 9,624 ft just over 1800 ft below the Sonora pass mountain peaks.

Highway 108 passes through the Sierra Mountain Range on highly scenic route of National Forest. The Pass is closed during winter months and open to vehicles in the summer only.

From Sonora to the Sonora Pass, is approximately 45 miles and takes a little over an hour to reach the peak. The views and scenery are mostly forest and mountains with opportunities to see the Sierra mountain range and some of the beautiful lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the area.  The Donnells Vista point is located about ten minutes from Strawberry and is a great place to see along the way.  For those looking to stop at a lake Beardsley is a 20 minute drive from hwy 108 down to the lake and Donnell’s reservoirs is not accessible by car, Pinecrest lake is a popular recreation lake for swimming, camping, hiking and picnics. River access is easiest in the town of Strawberry where where 108 crosses the Stanislaus River,  further up you will find Clark Fork and Deadman Creek, and on the Nevada side is the beautiful West Walker River. There are numerous hiking trails along the route including the famous Pacific Crest Trail at Kennedy Meadows, the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, the Emigrant Wilderness and many other smaller trails for day hikes.  There are a number of campgrounds on or near the route if you decide to stay, reservations are recommended for weekends during the mid summer months.

As nice as it is to enjoy the California side of the pass the Nevada side has its own list of great places to see if your traveling east across the pass. The vegetation and geology changes on the east side and offer a variety of new looks on the landscape. On the east side you will find aspens and volcanic outcroppings as you wind your way down past the the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center located in Pickel Meadows  at 6,800 ft. You are now in the Toiyabe National Forest on your way to the Junction of hwy 108 and US 395 near Bridgeport.  Horse back riding, fly fishing and hiking along the Walker river are great options to consider on this side of the pass.

 

 

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