The craggy peaks, waterfalls, and rivers of the Sierra Buttes are a spectacular site, especially in the winter and spring when adorned with a tapestry of snow. Glacially formed lakes add to the unique beauty of the landscape and offer recreation in its most luxuriously primitive form.
The drive from Sierra City to Yuba Pass provides a kaleidoscope of terrain and plant communities. There are several excellent views of the Sierra Buttes from Gold Lake Road and along Highway 49.
During the winter, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers have a unique opportunity to explore a winter wonderland made more beautiful by the rugged mountainous backdrop. Hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horse packing in this region are what dreams are made of.
The Pacific Crest Trail can be reached from Packer Saddle or the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail and also at Loves Falls just north of Sierra City. The Lakes Basin Campground contains three trail-heads that provide access to the many lakes in this area.
Sand Pond Interpretive Trail describes 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.
The unspoiled lakes in this region are highly prized by fly fishermen and those who prefer to fish from the shore or small boats. Over fifteen lakes provide ample space for recreationists to enjoy solitude and comfort.
Campgrounds offer several levels of amenities including boating, swimming, fishing, piped and stream water, camping stoves, travel trailer spaces, and sites for horse trailers. The Wild Plum Campground, located just east of Sierra City, has a beautiful waterfall as an added attraction.
Nearby Loves Falls is also beautiful and easily accessible. Winter is a beautiful time to explore the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Miles of groomed roads and trails offer excellent cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Bassett’s Station at the intersection of Highway 49 and Gold Lake Road is a favorite staging area for snowmobilers and cross country skiers. It is complete with a general store, cafe, restrooms, and gas station.
Gold Lake Road is the main access route to many miles of trails. The trip to Graeagle is a favorite among local snowmobilers. Yuba Pass Snow Park, 13 miles north of Sierra City, accesses trails that reach the Little Truckee Summit staging area and Jackson Meadows reservoir. Tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and snow camping round out the winter fun in this large snowpark facility. When the snow melts, the Lakes Basin area abounds in a variety of wildflowers. Orange masses of lilies bloom in the wet creek drainages and wild azaleas are scattered about the hillsides.
At the summit of Yuba Pass, magenta colored penstemon and lacy white yampa decorate the landscape. In the marshy areas, marigolds, elephant heads, corn lilies, and several species of monkey flowers flourish in the spring sun. Viewing: The Sand Pond Interpretive Trail features wheel chair accessible wooden boardwalks that follow fern-lined paths and cross stretches of shallow, clear water.
This trail near Sardine Lake Campground is barrier-free and provides viewing opportunities of a wetland that has been enlarged by a family of beavers. The path also allows visitors to view trout and summer mallard broods close up. Bald eagles and osprey fish on the many lakes, and pine martens forage in nearby meadows. The Yuba Pass area provides excellent bird-watching opportunities.
The Wild Plum Loop Trail meanders through riparian hardwood communities that provide a rich birding experience. Sierra County’s forests, lakes, streams, rivers and varied terrain provide the setting for a multitude of outdoor activities including picnicking, camping, horseback riding and packing, hiking and backpacking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, gold panning, swimming, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.