Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail

MODERATE 161 reviews
#7 of 193 trails in

Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sierra City, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,555 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

trail running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

Views of three lakes to fire lookout where you can see the Sacramento Valley. Trailhead is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile after the end of paved road. Beyond trailhead is OHV-only. Trail is mostly uphill but not too steep with plenty of flat ground. As you approach the first ridge, you'll see wildflowers & butterflies galore. Around the bend are the Tamarack Lakes, reflecting the sky, clouds, & trees. A little ways farther is Young America lake, which is just as reflective. Finally, you'll meet up with the 4WD trail that has 4 or 5 switchbacks, and finally reach the bottom of the lookout tower. If you're afraid of heights, you might not want to climb, but if not, be prepared for the views! Approximately 200 steps later, you'll be atop the lookout tower, with 360-degree views of the entire Sacramento Valley. On clear days you can see as far as Lassen! You also have a wonderful view of Upper & Lower Sardine Lake.

hiking
25 days ago

Did this trail in 2014, but am definitely going to try and do it again this year. The trail is well maintained and BEAUTIFUL!!

hiking
3 months ago

The hike was a little harder & longer than I had thought. It took us a total of about 4 hrs (both up and down the mountain). The view was breath taking, definitely worth it - I can’t wait to do it again once there’s snow! If you have 4WD, there’s a service road you can take that will get you 3/4 the way up the mountain (which would cut out about 2 hrs of the hike)!

hiking
5 months ago

I've done this hike twice in the last few years and the one thing I hate is that hike it a tad bit longer then main article here indicates. From top to bottom, this is at least 5 mile each way hike. The first I attempted it, I did it too late in the day and made it up about 4/5th of the way, but turned around as I was running out of water and light (no flashlight on me). The second time around I left early in the day and made it up in the early mid afternoon. The views are some of the very best. On the downside, their were I think 3-4 fires going on in that region so the views were also kind of spoiled too by a bit of haze. Oh well. Maybe next time?

5 months ago

Uphill hike all the way to the tower but sooo worth it for the views. It was extremely windy, and that made the shaded areas chilly. My dog did great on the hike up but once we hit the stairs to the tower, I felt is was extremely unsafe for her. We made it up to the third set of stairs with me white knuckling my grip on her harness before I had a bit of anxiety at the sketchiness of the stairs and then decided to carry her back down. The stairs are somewhat wide gapped with absolutely no protection around the side rails and it is a sheer drop down. My friend ended up staying with my pup so I could make it to the top by myself. And I did, but with shaky knees to be honest. If you’re afraid of heights, skip the tower itself. But the view from the tower itself is breathtaking !!!!!

6 months ago

amazing hike...the views from the tower are just beautiful. steady climb to get there but not to bad. i would say depending on your dog whether it would be comfortable for them or not up the stairs. mine made it fine but i held her harness to help her. this has to be my favorite hike for the views alone. can't wait to do it again.

6 months ago

Beautiful vistas, especially from the top of the fire tower! A steady climb the whole way up, but not horrible. We even had a very light snow shower on the way back down. One of my new favorite hikes!

Beautiful hike. Wouldn’t recommend bringing big dogs, the stairs are pretty sketchy for them to get up. Uphill the whole way but it goes by quick. Great views.

hiking
7 months ago

9/15/2018: Our group including 5 adults and 3 kids (ages about 5-11) all wearing regular shoes, made the trip up and back with time to stop for lunch and views in about 5 hours. It was a stunning day to be outside as it was nice and brisk but sunny. Bring a windbreaker though- it was downright COLD with the wind up near the top and out of the tree line.
Side note: It's been several days since our hike and my calves are still barking! As others said, it isn't overly steep, but it'll still get ya!
We'll definitely be headed back! (I heard the flowers are lovely mid-summer!)

7 months ago

Great hike! The stairs to the lookout are not for the vertigo challenged folk!

7 months ago

Beautiful views even with the smoke in valley. Took my dog and she had a great time until she got to the steps. She did the first two sets but the third set she could see the valley below, they were steeper/ narrower than the others so we turned around at this point. Stunning views!!

7 months ago

Amazing views! I would rate this hike as hard instead of moderate Start early it gets hot.

hiking
9 months ago

Great trail and great views. I took about 6 hours, but I like to stop and take lots of pictures! Definitely wish I had hiking poles for this hike since there was a good incline/decline! My Fitbit had me clocked at 7 miles round trip! Not a bad day!!

hiking
9 months ago

I’ve hiked this trail almost every year since middle/high school. Absolutely breathtaking views at the top with incredible (and diverse!) scenery along the way.

hiking
9 months ago

Great hike, definitely a little work out but amazing views at the top of the fire look out.

hiking
9 months ago

This hike is awesome and makes you feel so accomplished but it is a little harder than “moderate”, especially on a hot day. The first half is entirely inclined and not mildly. Make sure to bring a LOT of water and food. You won’t pass any lakes so if you have dogs make sure to pack lots of extra water for them. It is a dog friendly trail though, and my active dog loved it. The view at the lookout is truly spectacular and makes the whole hike worth it. I’d say it took us around 4 hours to complete from the lookout trailhead.

hiking
9 months ago

Stellar scenery on the way up and fantastic views at the lookout. Can't wait to do this again.

hiking
9 months ago

Awesome 360 degrees views. Will be back!

9 months ago

Finally did the hike today. Such amazing views and what a workout! All the sweat is paid off when you make it to the tower.

hiking
9 months ago

Great trail with some serious rewarding views all throughout the hike. But really brutal trail. It's a fairly steady steep incline that wears you down. We had to take frequent breaks despite being weekend hikers.

9 months ago

Great hike! Easy to follow and views galore! Don't forget the sunscreen at this high elevation. Will definitely do again❤️

10 months ago

Pretty cool hike. Dog didn’t want to go up the steps though

hiking
10 months ago

I accidentally followed one of the atv trails on the way back down and got off trail a bit but the AllTrails map got me back on track. Amazing views at the lookout

10 months ago

Great trail- good workout, mostly up and downhill, lots of variety. Shade in most parts of the trail, pretty windy at the top, so I was glad to have my puffy jacket. Follow the app directions to the trailhead, not your gps, which may lead you onto some rough OHV roads. Don’t count on cell service anywhere in the area. Saw Lassen in the distance from the fire lookout!

hiking
10 months ago

Why does the All-Trails Map look so different than Google Maps? It looks like the trailhead is off Butcher Ranch Rd. But you can hardly see it on All Trails Map.

hiking
10 months ago

Must do

10 months ago

I did this trail 5/28 it still a little snow on top. but it's possible to reach. lookout was open on this time. very windy! Amazing hike!

hiking
10 months ago

One of the most scenically impressive trails in the Sierra. A must do. Trail had plenty of snow still but was easily passable.

hiking
Saturday, January 13, 2018

What a wonderful view! My wife and I did this day hike back in the early 1990’s and it was definitely worth it. Lots of wildflowers and bees....would recommend bringing 2 liters of water because there are no real sources to get water up there. The final section to top is completely exposed. The push up to the very top uses a staircase that leads directly to fire lookout. The stairs have an open view below....(not for people afraid of heights). There was a fire burning that day over by Truckee, but far enough away to not abstract our view. It turned out to be a pretty big fire and burned through the entire corridor around int. 80.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Amazing hike. Covered in snow right now. Yak tracks might be best option for walking on snow that is more like ice in parts. Needs 4 wheel drive to get up to butcher pass rd then we walked up to trailhead. Didn't make it to the top as we started our hike around 1pm. Knowing what we know now we'd probably try to aim to start the trail no later than 10am.

backpacking
Monday, December 11, 2017

i didn't reach the top but it was still an amazing hike. there was a lot of snow on the road preventing my car from getting to the Butte trailhead so I used the packer saddle trail. the trail is fairly difficult to surpass right now as there is snow with ice under it. the easiest way is the long way by talking the service road to the rec vehicle trail. i had to turn around by the time i found it but I'll be back!

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