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The Tungsten Road in Toiyabe National Forest and Emigrant Wilderness

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By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 31 October 2014

The Tungsten Road is a dirt mining road East of Sonora Pass off of Highway 108 that still offers four-wheel drive access to Leavitt Lake on the East flank of the Sierra Crest below Leavitt Peak.

History of Tungsten Road

The road is closed South of Leavitt Peak, being maintained as a trail across Emigrant Wilderness by the Stanislaus National Forest.
The road has deteroriated to a thin trail in many segments, though maintaining rough road status across others.

From Leavitt Lake to Snow Lake the Tungsten Road is a trail route down the Sierra Crestline to the Southernmost end of Emigrant Wilderness. The Tungsten Road is the Sierra Crest Trail along this segment where the PCT goes around the Sierra Crest on the East flank, and the TYT on the West.

The Tungsten Road connects the route of the PCT across Kennedy Canyon trail junction with the route of the TYT through Grizzly Peak trail junction.
The Tungsten Road shares a segment of trail with the PCT in the North Emigrant Wilderness, then hikes South over Big Sam into the Emigrant Basin where the PCT turns East to skirt around the Sierra Crestline.

On the South side of Big Sam the Tungsten Road picks up the TYT coming South up the West Sierra flank from Kennedy Meadows at Grizzly Peak. The TYT follows the Tungsten Road to Summit Meadow, where the Tungsten Road branches off to both the Montezuma Mine at Snow Lake and down into the top of the canyon holding the East fork of Cherry Creek on its way down to the "Cherry Creek Mine."

Horse Meadow is the top of the "Cherry Creek" mining claim, Twin Lakes the bottom.

The Tungsten Road is a good route as part of a number of local backpacking loops around Emigrant Wilderness and an excellent alternative route through Emigrant Wilderness rather than the PCT's route around it.
This Emigrant Wilderness Trail Schematic shows the Tungsten Road's route along the Sierra Crest in relationship with the Western route of the TYT and Eastern route of the PCT.

This page is to hear from you about your questions, comments, and experiences, and especially to post up additional historical or contemporary information you may have about the Tungsten Road.

Trail Guide Resources

Here's the location of the information I've collected about the Tungsten Road on the trail guide;
History of the Tungsten Road

Latopie Lake to Kennedy Canyon trail junction

This map covers the whole length of the Tungsten Road from Hwy 108 to Snow Lake and East Cherry Creek:
Map of the Tungsten Road

Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake

Much of the black-dotted route on the map above is linked to more detailed maps. The red dots are linked to trail guide citations.

This detailed map below covers the Tungsten Road from Highway 108 to the PCT on the Southeast corner of the Leavitt Peak Massif:
PCT: North End Tungsten Road Map

Sonora Pass to Kennedy Canyon

This map covers the Tungsten Road from the PCT on Leavitt Peak to the TYT and the end of the Tungsten Road at Montezuma Mine at Snow Lake.
TYT: South End Tungsten Road Map

High Emigrant Basin Backpacking Map

Here's the big map of the whole Sonora Pass Backpacking Region:
The Whole Tungsten Road Map

Sonora Pass Region Backpacking Map

and the 
Road Map

Trans-Sierra and Sonora Pass Region Road Map

Post up your experiences, favorite trips, information, updates, or questions and comments about the Tungsten Road here.

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June 2016: Joan at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station observed that the Tungsten Road from Highway 108 to Leavitt Lake was looking bad this year, and had been getting worse over recent years.

Joan and her husband like to drive their four-wheel around the High Sierra.

Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

The state of the Tungsten Road is the responsibility of the Bridgeport Ranger Station of the Toiyabe National Forest. I suggest you contact them for information on the status of the Tungsten Road, then post up your Tungsten Road Condition Reports and your experiences here.

For more information on the condition of the Tungsten Road you can contact the Bridgeport Ranger District,

...but the most information they will typically give us is, "we run a scraper through once a year, most years," and that, "use the Tungsten Road at your own risk." Besides getting the above information from the Bridgeport Range Station, we can contact them to make sure they have run the scraper through at least once this year, and encourage them to keep it in good condition and open for use.

Contact Bridgeport to tell them you want the Tungsten Road out to Leavitt Lake kept truckable. They may let it slip a bit, if we don't remind them to spend some of our time and money there.

Alex Wierbinski

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