Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail

MODERATE 169 reviews
#6 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
snow
1 day ago

Still too much snow to complete, will attempt again in a couple of months

hiking
4 days ago

still has lots of snow. You cannot drive to the begging of trail. We were able to park in 1.5 before the trail begins. The pros is that we were alone on the trail and on the top!

hiking
snow
20 days ago

Fun to cruise through the snow in June, but big cracks across some of the open fields look like they might slide. Take your time. Incredible views!

hiking
no shade
rocky
snow
1 month ago

We did this trail today, it’s a great uphill trail that takes about 2 hours to reach the top of the first mountain. The only downfall was that at the top of the mountain, snow covered everything. We were unable to continue our hike to the fire lookout. Once the snow melts, we will come back to try again in July. If your car is unable to 4wd on the trail, park at the beginning of the trailhead. There’s a spot to fit several cars. There’s also a few snow run off waterfalls that kept us cool!

hiking
1 month ago

I completed this trail last July. It’s incredible! The stairs challenged my fear of heights but the view from the top was worth it! Bring lots of water and enjoy!

hiking
2 months 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
6 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
7 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?

7 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 !!!!!

8 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 yourself or not to do the stairs. mine made it just fine, we had no issues..this has to be my favorite hike for the views alone. can't wait to do it again.

8 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
9 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!)

9 months ago

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

9 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!!

10 months ago

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

hiking
11 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
11 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
11 months ago

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

hiking
11 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
11 months ago

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

hiking
11 months ago

Awesome 360 degrees views. Will be back!

11 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
11 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.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

hiking
Monday, June 18, 2018

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

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
Friday, June 08, 2018

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
Monday, June 04, 2018

Must do

Load More

Featured Trails