Sardine Lakes to Sierra Buttes Lookout

HARD 35 reviews
#43 of 191 trails in

Sardine Lakes to Sierra Buttes Lookout is a 11.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sierra City, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 11.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3,431 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

lake

views

rocky

snow

no shade

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 day ago

backpacking
1 month ago

We turned this into a backpacking trip hiking from Sardine Lakes to Tamarack Lakes on Friday night, camped at upper Tamarack, hiked to the Sierra Buttes lookout Saturday morning and then back down to Tamarack for our packs and North on the PCT to Deer Lake. I recorded the hike from Deer Lake back to Sardine. Beautiful area, minus one star because everywhere you go the OHVs are already there. People can drive to within a half mile of the lookout and to every lake we went to.

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

We started at the Tamarack Connector Trail. This is basically 3 hikes in one. First part is super rocky making your footing a little difficult. Some pretty tough switchbacks with minimal shade to get to the top. You’ll get some amazing views of the lakes. Once you get to the top, you come straight back down but at this point it’s a nice reprieve for your legs. You’ll pass a really cool rock garden with huge boulders and then go through some trees to start making your way through some longer switchbacks to the start of the the lookout trail. Last part of the hike is the hike back up to the top and you’ll hike over some snow in parts which are pretty slippery. This trail is definitely lacking in signage so keep an eye out for the pink ribbons on the trees. Definitely worth the view once you climb the 170 steps to the top. We clocked in at 7.3 miles one way. Got lost twice on the way back due to poor signage but luckily my AllTrails app let me pull up the map to get us back on track. We brought 3 liters of water and 3 liters of Gatorade and ran out of both 1.5 miles to the end. Bring snacks too! Not super difficult but expect over 14 miles rather than 11 like AllTrails says

hiking
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Great trail! The first 2 miles is a rock garden. Which is fun on the way back when you’re tired. It’s a slow rise in elevation as you pass by the Lower & Upper Sardine Lakes then there are a couple of steep switch backs to the top of the ridge. Then an easy walk down and past Tamarack Lakes followed by a steep hike to the lookout. There is still a bit of snow in the last mile and I lost the trail a few times. Thankfully I had downloaded the AllTrails map which got me to the top. Glad I got this One off the list. It was tough...or I just had a whimpy day. Next!

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked on July 6th. Lots of patchy snowfields to cross on the summit ridge, but it's melting very fast and was not that hard to follow (look for the pink ribbon markers on the trees). There were plenty of folks coming up the shorter route, but below the PCT we only saw a couple other folks. Nice swim in Tamarack Lakes. Fantastic scenery almost the whole way up with epic 360 views at the top!

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
2 months ago

Plenty of snow above 6000 feet. Packer creek is flowing fast and cold. Like really cold. We crossed it without shoes while going up but ended up circumnavigating by walking down towards a narrow section along packer lake trail. The trail disappears under snow 300 feet below PCT. We ended up turning back after reaching PCT as the stretch further up looked treacherous. Not shaded for most part.

10 months ago

we took this trail from the tamarack trail head to the sardine outlook, which overlooks upper and lower sardine lake. which is 4 miles round trip. the sardine outlook has a sign as well so you'll know when you get to it. or continue on to the sierra buttes. its a rocky trail so watch your step. beautiful views of the lakes and sierra buttes. not much shade so bring sunscreen and water. an amazing trail for the views

hiking
Friday, September 14, 2018

Very beautiful, but hard. There are multiple starting points to reach the Sierra Buttes look out but starting from Sardine Lake area you take the Tamarack Lake Trailhead that is on the right before you reach the campground based on the directions from the app and then continue past Upper Tamarack Lake towards the lookout. My friends pedometer clocked us just under 14 miles round trip for this hike. My dog was a champ but the trail is very rocky and she was unable to do the stairs up to the lookout at the end, so hiking with a buddy is helpful so one can go up and enjoy the look out while one stays with the dog - then swap so you both get to enjoy the beauty at the end of the uphill climb. Hike is very hard, but very rewarding! Bring LOTS of water!

hiking
Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Almost missed the trailhead as its named something else, a connector (I'll post the picture). heads up pretty quick and it's like a rocky dry creek bed the bends around through the trendline until it breaks out along the ridge. amazing views!! gets pretty steep toward the end of the Sardine Lakes section. But the views.......

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Good views of Sardine lakes and the buttes, but the "trails" are just old rocky mining roads and there are human structures everywhere. The campsites are mediocre at best, and the new switchbacks to gain the butte ridge are excessive. I would not recommend that trail or that area.

backpacking
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Took a crew of mixed level hikers to the look out. Very challenging with a 30 lb pack but definitely worth the views. The route was difficult to follow the last mile due to the snow pack. I would recommend a quick brush up on terrain association but overall fairly easy to follow. The rocks at the beginning were treacherous on the ankles, so be careful.

backpacking
Monday, September 19, 2016

Awesome trail. It's actually called the Tamarack Trail and has some great little lakes to camp next to. We hiked the 3+ miles to Lower Tamarack and set camp there before hiking to the lookout and back without our packs. Wonderful views

hiking
Saturday, September 10, 2016

Loved it

Monday, September 05, 2016

Right loose rocks at first, but good views. Then a disappointing loss of altitude as you work back down towards Tamarack Lake.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The hike up to the fire lookout tower at 8587 feet elevation had the most spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and valley's below. It is a trail one should do at least once in their lifetime.

hiking
Friday, July 10, 2015

Took the 4x4 trail up to within a mile of the summit before the snow prevented us from driving further. The hike up from there was a bit steep but fairly easy for anyone is decent shape. If anything, the fantastic views will take your breath away. If you don't have a 4x4 with high clearance, the hike up would still be well worth it. Once at the summit, there is a fire lookout station that we were able to walk upon an enjoy the 360 degree views from.

off road driving
Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Easy drive in a 4WD or high any high clearance vehicle; might be a bit rough for the family mini-van though! It is about a 3/4 mile hike from the parking area up to the top, but more then worth it. The view is AMAZING!!! If you have the guts to climb the old rickety tower with a 2,000' drop to the Sardine Lakes below! You can see over the Sierras into the Nevada desert, Mount Shasta to the North, AND the Coastal range to the West! It truly feels like the top of the world!

hiking
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Panoramic views from the top 9000ft

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

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