Sierra Buttes

Highway 49 parallels the North Yuba River all the way from the River Canyon area, past Loganville and into Sierra City. This scenic drive provides travelers and recreationists easy access to sight-seeing, fishing, camping and swimming.

This stretch of road provides a kaleidoscope of terrain and plant communities. The craggy peaks of the Sierra Buttes are a spectacular site any season, whether in the winter and spring when adorned with a tapestry of snow, the Fall when the trees glow in autumn colors, or the summer when flowers abound and the water is a perfect temperature for swimming.

Cultural Attractions

Museums: The Kentucky Mine, Stampmill and Museum are located just east of Sierra City on Highway 49. The museum offers guided tours into the underground mine and also into California’s only remaining workable gold ore stamp mill. The museum depicts the gold rush era of Sierra County, life in a mining camp, and the local American Indian culture. For tour information and operating hours call the Sierra County Historical Society at 530-862-1310.

Historic Sites: Main Street in Sierra City is charmingly narrow and lined with many turn-of-the-century structures, complete with wooden boardwalks. The Masonic Hall, built in 1864, is the oldest building in town. As the “Gateway to the Lakes Basin,” Sierra City also provides dramatic views of the Sierra Buttes. The Wells Fargo building in Sierra City typifies 1870s Federalist Style architecture. This brick two-story structure was historically used as a mercantile store and Wells Fargo Express & Company stage coach stop in the 1870s. A free walking tour map is available at the Sierra Country Store.

Out on the Trail

Hiking, backpacking, mountain biking: 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, 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.

Off-Road Vehicles: There are several off-road trails popular with 4-wheel drivers, including the Sierra Buttes trail which runs from the most scenic transfer station in California, to the Sierra Buttes Lookout parking lot and then on to Packer Saddle, traversing the southwestern face of the Buttes with breathtaking views. Don’t miss the actual lookout, a short hike from the parking lot. There is an amazing viewing platform that runs all around the lookout for 360º views. Not recommended for anyone with fear of heights.

Summer Fun

Fishing & Swimming: Though accessing the river is a little tricky in the town proper of Sierra City, there are plenty of places to get to the river outside of town, and many fishing and swimming holes nearby. One of the best is by Wild Plum Bridge, by Haypress Creek. Another great place to swim is by Loves Falls. There are also plenty of places to stop along the river west of Sierra City on the way into town from Downieville, or east towards the Lakes Basin. Or, get to know a local and maybe they’ll show your their favorite spot!

Loganville provides excellent camping facilities in an area with ample shade with dense oak and fir trees. There is a Loganville Highway Visitor Center & RV Dump Station on the north side of the highway. The Wild Plum Campground, located in the eastern end of Sierra City provides camping right on the beautiful Haypress Creek with lots of hiking trails nearby in addition to excellent swimming and fishing right from the campground.

Gold Panning: Gold panning is open to the public at Union Flat Campground. Gold pans and panning instructions are available at the Miner’s Emporium in Sierra City.

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