For day of fishing or a week, Fremont Lake in the Hoover Wilderness is a wonderful destination. It is an 8½-mile hike from the trailhead, making it a full day of backpacking to reach your destination; but once there you will have the beautiful expanse of Fremont Lake beckoning you every morning.
At 8,200 feet, Fremont Lake makes a prime base camp. The upper end of the lake has a broad, lightly forest area which offers plenty of room to set up a comfortable camp. For those who would like to lighten their burden on the way to the lake, Leavitt Meadow Pack Station can help you out. (Read more below.)
Half-mile long Fremont Lake can get windy in the afternoons, making fly fishing a little more challenging. I tried to get out early when the water was still and had great luck along both shores. The lower end of the lake sees much less fishing and is worth the trek.
The trailhead at Leavitt Meadow on the east side of Sonora Pass can be reached from Highway 108 out of Sonora or from Highway 395 just north of Bridgeport. A backpackers' parking lot is located next to the Leavitt Meadow Campground. Restrooms and a self-serve wilderness permit kiosk are located at the parking lot. The Hoover Wilderness now requires that backpackers carry bear canisters.
A short trail leads over to the campground and from there to the new bridge that spans the West Walker River. Soon after the bridge a junction in the trail offers two routes. The trail to the left past Secret Lake is a little longer, while the one to the right heads directly up Leavitt Meadow. Both trails converge a half mile before Roosevelt and Lane lakes.
For those wanting to split the hike into two days, Lane Lake (3.5 miles) makes a good stopping place. Excellent campsites are found on the southern and eastern sides. Fishing is good. Just beyond Lane Lake the old trail splits off to the right along the side of a beaver pond. This unmaintained route follows the river more closely and eventually rejoins the main trail.
Bypass the turnoff to Hidden Lake and continue to a river crossing at the foot of a stiff ascent up to Fremont Lake. Overall the 8½-mile hike to Fremont Lake climbs a little over a thousand feet.
A broad flat at the upper (southern) end of the lake has room for several groups to camp without ever feeling crowded. Although small campsites can be located along the eastern shore, they are less desirable.
In 1852 a party of emigrants dragged their wagons up the steep hillside at the northern end of Fremont Lake only to find that they couldn't maneuver them along either shoreline. With no other choice, they dug a drainage trench at the end of the lake and lowered the water level enough that they could ford their wagons through the shallows along the western side of the lake. Several thousand more emigrants followed in 1853 and 1854. For more information, read Sonora Pass Pioneers, offered by the Tuolumne County Historical Society.
To find the very best campgrounds in the Eastern Sierra and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.
On your way to the Leavitt Meadow trailhead, you can pick up fishing supplies at the following places:
For adventures in the Hoover Wilderness, consider having yourself packed into a base camp by a local packer. Leavitt Meadow Pack Station is located along Highway 108 in Leavitt Meadow. You can arrange to have them pack your gear into a recommended base camp while you make the trek on foot or you can make the journey on horseback along with the packer. They even offer a specialty trip designed for fly fishermen who want to try their luck at Fremont Lake.