Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail

MODERATE 94 reviews
#7 of 145 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
1555 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
3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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
4 months ago

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!

5 months ago

Great hike! Super hard on the way up and the lookout is cool but terrifying!

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike beautiful views, didn’t care much for having mountain bikers on the trail, seems they will damage the trail. Also makes it more hazardous for hikers and dogs.

hiking
5 months ago

Incredible hike with gorgeous views. It snowed a few days before we went so the trail was a bit muddy. The fire tower is pretty awesome although it can be a challenge for those with a fear of heights.

5 months ago

Beautiful hike. Well travelled for good reason. Head out early to avoid crowds. The fire tower is simply breathtaking.

7 months ago

A little steeper than I expected but very worth the hike took us 3 hours round trip as we took quite a few breaks. the end staircase to the lookout is definitely not for anyone afraid of heights at there is about 1000 foot drop underneath the stairs! great hike though!

7 months ago

One of the best hikes I've ever done. View is worth every step uphill! A moderate 2hr out and back. Bring your camera.

hiking
7 months ago

The Sierra Buttes lookout trail was beautiful. My 8 year old struggled for the first mile having a hard time with the steepness. Even he would say it was worth it once we reached the top. The stairs made me nervous although my boys didn't seem to mind.

7 months ago

Such a beautiful hike!

8 months ago

My goodness!

8 months ago

It was harder at the top but the hike was worth the view.

8 months ago

Amazing hike with gorgeous views. Starts off very steep, so be ready to ascend almost 2000 ft.

Lots of shade in the morning, but much less on the way down in the afternoon hours.

Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Enjoy! It's worth the trek.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing view of The Valley below, plenty of shade on the way up.

8 months ago

Well worth it.

hiking
8 months ago

Phew!!! That was a lot of uphill. But totally worth every breath stealing, thigh burning step!

hiking
8 months ago

The road there was s a bit long for me. When I arrived I saw this little forest fire watch tower on top of the nearest peak and thought the hike must stop somewhere short of that far away place; but as the hike progressed I saw that indeed that peak is a mere 2.5 miles from the parking lot. It looks so much more daunting that it actually is, though the hike is quite steep in certain spots so gets the blood moving a bit. (All the better.) I certainly would call it unusually steep however. I was surprised at how quickly the walk was done. At the top, that stairway surprised me by taking my breath away. Apparently I can fear heights under visually bracing situations. The tower is seriously perched on quite a precipice, and those stairs seem to put my body up where it was never meant to be. Ha. Very much worth it though. A bit of terror is good for the soul. Ha

hiking
9 months ago

Wow this is quite an amazing trail! The top of the lookout point affords the most stunning views- I quite recommend this trail to everyone.

I think the directions to the trailhead need to be a bit updated- you should see signs for the Pacific Crest Trail at the trailhead as well. We actually started at the Tamarack Lakes trailhead and eventually connected to the Sierra Buttes trail, but it added a few extra miles to our trip.

9 months ago

7/3/17
on the trail by 9-ish... i met only 3 folks going up and had the watchtower to myself for 30 minutes... still snow around and its an easy trail up... i came down too far west out of the snow, followed the PCT the wrong direction for a bit and ended up bushwacking down to a FS road... walked it back NE to the parking area... i added about a mile to my hike... not sure exactly where i erred... i assume some folks access the area from the PCT and i followed the wrong tracks in the snow... some of the beat views i've ever seen in the Sierras... from Lassen Volcano to Donnèr Pass... highly recommend but it was busy around the 4th holiday as i headed down, 20 folks heading up

hiking
9 months ago

Great hike. I did it off season, on a weekday so there was no one on the trail but myself, loved that. The views on the top are great. You can see Lassen peak easily.

hiking
9 months ago

Wow this was one of the best hikes we have done in a while. Only comparable to Mt Tallac. Amazing 360 panoramic views. Beautiful clear day. Even on a 4th July weekend fairly mild traffic. It takes some time to drive too but very scenic one that worth the haul. The roads are a little tricky and you can't really count on the Alltrails to be available so make sure to bring a topo map. Though it's a short hike it feels long because of the challenging uphill climbing and maneuvering through snow to find the trail. DON'T FORGET MAP or good GPS. Just keep heading uphill towards the East you can't miss the lookout. Also you will be following a pretty distinct ridge line to guide you. Lots of wild flowers too. My 8 year old went all the way to the tower. We saw this couple that was about 80 reach the top, so no excuses! If your afraid of heights don't bother going up the tower. Just make sure to wear good treaded hiking boots and treeking poles to go across snow fields. Once you reach the peak section there's very little snow. We had fun sledding down short hills of snow on our butts on the way back down. Be aware there's a OHV trail and PCT connect with this one, it's easy to wonder off on the wrong trail. Again just stay along the ridge.

9 months ago

One of my favorite hikes! Such stunning panoramic views at the top!!

9 months ago

Shit was tight my niggas

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked this trail from tamarack lakes with my dog yesterday. Still lots of snow but melting fast. It was difficult finding the route at times but the last stretch to the lookout is snow free and the views are incredible.

hiking
10 months ago

6/10/2017 Hike
We were only able to drive up to about 1 mile before the trail head, the road is covered in ice. We hiked a mile and followed the road but couldn't go further because it's too slippery without proper snow shoes and it's too dangerous with kids. The ice is hard packed slushy snow. The views were still breathtaking and that tiny little 1 mile hike was still worth every minute. We will definitely come back when all the snow is melted, probably in a month or so. I give this 5 stars even without seeing the lookout!

hiking
Tuesday, February 07, 2017

One of my favorite trails. Love it ❤️

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

I love this area. The sierra buttes lookout is absolutely breathtaking.

hiking
Monday, January 02, 2017

was awesome in June . fairly easy to follow even with snow. anyone know about snowshoeing this trail or parts of it in winter months?

off road driving
Sunday, January 01, 2017

The lookout is absolutely amazing. I have not hiked this portion of the Sierra Buttes simply because driving straight up the southwestern side is irresistible (if you have a good 4x4, that is)!!
My wife and one of our boys has hiked up to the lookout and they reported the trek to be quite steep. This is a popular and very worthy hike/4x4. It's all about the view.

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