Most of the country around the towns in this area is quite rugged and undeveloped with few groomed trails. But the historic Henness Pass Road provides for both 4-wheel driving, biking and hiking for the adventurous.
Easy to extreme level hiking trails abound in this region of Sierra County. A fully accessible trail passes gently through 500 feet of terrain from the Fiddle Creek Campground to the North Yuba River just off Hwy 49. The Saddleback Trail climbs up mountainous terrain to the Saddleback Lookout where spectacular views can be seen and photographed. The Canyon Creek trail provides level ground and a scenic path alongside the North Yuba as it makes it way towards Bullards Bar. You’ll pass through an old miners camp at Shenanigan Flat.
The biking trails that Downieville is famous for originate on the Sierra Buttes, and the world famous Downieville Classic starts in Sierra City. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) winds itself across Haypress Creek, and then emerges at the Yuba River at Loves Falls. These waterfalls are spectacular and an easy walk from Hwy 49. The PCT crosses Hwy 49 just north-east of Sierra City, and then climbs in a series of switchbacks across the southwest face of the Buttes right above town. Sierra City is a popular stop-over for weary PCT hikers, to stock up on provisions at the Sierra Country Store
, do laundry, and for some, get a comfortable night’s sleep in a bed. The Wild Plum Loop Trail starts near the Wild Plum campground and meanders alongside Haypress Creek through riparian hardwood communities that provide a rich birding experience.
Hiking in this region are what dreams are made of. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Sierra Buttes and can be reached from Packer Saddle or the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail. There are numerous campgrounds in the area with trail-heads that provide access to the many lakes in this area. Sand Pond Interpretive Trail shows the flora and fauna of a riparian habitat and is accessible to wheelchairs. It provides a wonderful experience for those who cannot hike the typical mountainous trail. There is horseback riding along Gold Lake. The biking trails that Downieville is famous for originate on the Sierra Buttes—get started on Packer Saddle.
Trails in the Sierra Valley area range from easy walks to rigorous climbs through thick conifer forests. The Cottonwood Overlook Trail is light to moderately difficult and provides panoramic views of the valley in several places along the trail. The Cottonwood Creek Botanical Trail uses trail markers and a corresponding brochure to identify and describe trees and other plants on this easy walk. Dedicated hikers can climb the steep Badenaugh Trail up to the Babbit Peak Lookout for an outstanding panoramic view of the local area of eastern California and western Nevada. Mountain bikers and equestrians share this trail with hikers. The Jackson Meadows Reservoir area features the Woodcamp Creek Interpretive Trail, which provides an educational and moderately difficult hike with 18 points of interest spelled out in a brochure. The Pacific Crest Trail can be accessed from the Jackson Meadow trail head. The Kyburz Flat interpretive area on Henness Pass Road east of Highway 89 explains the history of three different peoples who inhabited this beautiful mountain meadow starting 2,000 years ago. Maps and brochures are available free of charge.