Sierra Buttes Lookout

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5/5 (4 reviews)
Sierra City, California (Sierra County)
Last Updated: 11/24/2022
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In the Tahoe National Forest, the volcanic Sierra Buttes rise sharply above the North Yuba River Canyon, and at 8,587 feet in elevation watch over the many blue lakes that dot the Lakes Basin landscape. There is a decommissioned fire lookout tower perched on the summit, providing incredible 360 degree views reaching into more than seven different counties. The Buttes are without doubt one of the most distinctive geological features of the northern Sierra Nevada, and the lookout is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the region. Although most hikers reach the lookout from the lower trailhead, 2.5 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation below, those with high-clearance four wheel drive can access the upper trailhead, a mere 3/4 mile from the lookout tower.

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Trail Reviews

5/5 (4)
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Seasonal Closure
Visited: 11/24/2022

Closed for the season! See you next year!
Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/04/2021

Poor winter in the sierras meant we had a clear run up to the parking area that meets up with the trail. Further up there was some snow drifts that would prevent driving further and no good turn arounds. Did this in my 2020 2wd Ranger with a locker and BFG AT tires. Without low range, take your time going down and be easy on your brakes. Awesome views and a fun drive. It’s good to have something like Gaia GPS map downloaded in advance, cell coverage can be little to none.
Trail Review: Sierra Buttes Lookout - Kris Rayner
Trail Review: Sierra Buttes Lookout - Kris Rayner
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Visited: 07/01/2020

Excellent trip! Trail isn’t to difficult, but scenic!. At the end of the trail is a 3/4 mile hike to the fire lookout station. This is not for the faint hearted. The views are spectacular and well worth it. Overall, this trip is an amazing one!
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/06/2019

Very good trail, but we couldn't get to the top because there is still a 10 ft snow bank blocking the trail after a certain point. We got about 1-1.5 miles from the top (not much farther past vlad's #8 waypoint) and had to turn back, but we took Butcher Ranch Road down (turn right at waypoint 8 to sierra city) and it was F****** awesome. There's only room enough for 1 car (no exceptions) for a few miles of the trail, so I consider us lucky, but it was amazing. I highly recommend looking into it, and I will be back here to get to Sierra Buttes North. There are also TONS of trails to explore. This area is a very popular mountain biking spot, as well as quads and dirt bikes so be on the lookout. Vlad's assessment is correct, some of the trails are very steep, so if it's slick, make sure you have the right tires or you might actually slide off the trail and plummet 100's of feet to your death. That is not an exaggeration. Also, the towns along 49 are great, we stopped in Downieville for a bite and it was poppin'. Very good time. Video attached is of the trail going down to Sierra City. Tight trail, some small rock slide spots.
Trail Review: Sierra Buttes Lookout - Sean Eyler
Trail Review: Sierra Buttes Lookout - Sean Eyler
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