Located in a yellow pine forest, Leonardi is one of the few springs in the area. A number of bog, spring, sedge meadow inhabiting plants are found here, as are numerous animals. Some 600 meters (2,000 ft.) west of the springs the creek forms a spectacular waterfall, Lewisia Falls, down the almost perpendicular side of the Rubicon River Gorge. The view from the rim of the gorge is one of the finest in the mid-elevations of the Sierra.
The heavily forested area surrounding the springs contains some excellent specimens of yellow pine, Pinus ponderosa, and sugar pine, Pinus lambertiana. On the drier slopes there is some canyon oak woodland, with Quercus kelloggii and Quercus chrysolepis.
Of particular interest are the six species of Orchidaceae found here including the rein orchids, Platanthera sparsiflora and Piperia elegans, phantom orchid, Cephalanthera austiniae, twayblade, Listera convallarioides, rattlesnake plantain, Goodyera oblongifolia, and a coral root, Corallorhiza maculata.
Other plants found in the vicinity include the Washington lily, Lilium washingtonianum, alpine lily, Lilium parvum, a wild ginger, Asarum lemmonii, pine drops, Pterospora andromedea, Trillium chloropetalum, Pyrola picta f. aphylla and Aquilegia formosa. Lomatium torreyi reaches its northernmost limit here. There is also a particularly fine stand of Penstemon newberryi, unusual at this relatively low altitude. Phacelia stebbinsii is known only from the rocks by the waterfall.
An as yet undescribed species of Lewisia is found by the falls.
Among the mammals observed here are the water shrew, Sorex palustris, and the fisher, Martes pennanti. Several woodpeckers including the pileated, Dryocopus pileatus, white-headed, Denydrocopos albolarvatus, and the yellow-bellied sap-sucker, Sphyrapicus varius, frequent the area.
Integrity: The area was logged over 40-odd years ago and there is an old cabin on the site. Though there are logging operations in the vicinity, the U. S. Forest Service has been alerted to the value of the area and protective action is pending.
Use: Research, educational, portions for light recreation.
Inventory of California Natural Areas
Revision © 2008 Steven Louis Hartman