West Walker Wild & Scenic Rivers
Features: The West Walker River, from its source in the Hoover Wilderness to where it flows into the Antelope Valley upstream of the town of Walker, was protected as a state wild and scenic river by the California Legislature in 1989. Prior to its designation, the California Natural Resources Agency studied the river and found the river to possess extraordinary water, fishery, recreational, scenic, scientific, ecological, and educational values. The study concluded that the West Walker was one of a few rivers in the eastern Sierra Nevada that remains free flowing.
A state-protected wild and scenic river, the West Walker River in the eastern Sierra Nevada offers a diverse array of recreational opportunities. The river primarily flows through public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Lower segments of the river are easily accessible from Highway 395 and Highway 108. Several campgrounds, picnic areas, and river access sites are popular with travelers, campers, anglers, and whitewater boaters. The campgrounds provide great basecamps to explore the river.
Trail Directions: Upstream of Leavitt Meadow, the upper segments of the West Walker drains the magnificent Hoover Wilderness. Trail 22046 leads from the Leavitt Meadow campground and parking area and heads north into the wilderness. Shortly after leaving the trailhead, hikers and backpackers have the option to take Trail 22046, which skirts Leavitt Meadow and then climbs up to Roosevelt and Lane Lakes. Or you can take a side trail, 22047, which climbs the ridge east of the meadow and leads to Secret Lake.
Before reaching Roosevelt Lake on the main trail, visitors enter the Hoover Wilderness, where overnight camping requires a wilderness permit. The trail continues north, paralleling and crossing the West Walker, on its way to Hidden Lake and other alpine gems in the wilderness. Between Roosevelt Lake and Leavitt Meadow, the West Walker flows through a spectacular granite gorge. It’s well worth a short cross-county diversion from the trail to view the gorge.
When visiting this area, don’t be surprised if you run into Marines in combat gear. The Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare School is located on Highway 108 and the Marines often use the adjacent public lands for training.
The domes begin immediately to the south of Trout Creek and to the east of the South Fork of the Kern. Trails are not well marked and seldom used, so familiarity with pathfinding and off trail navigation is recommended to access and explore the domes. Some great, sweeping vistas can be had from the tops of the domes, many of which are accessible via Class 3 scramble.
Access to Leavitt Meadow and the upper West Walker is limited in the winter because Highway 108 is closed during the season. For up to date information about recreation opportunities and road access, contact the Forest Service at the Bridgeport Ranger Station; (760) 932-7070.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.
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- Sierra Forests Hikes