Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail is a 4.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sierra City, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and running and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length4.8 miElevation gain1,548 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingRunningDog friendlyForestViewsWildflowersWildlifeSnow
Description
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Getting There

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.

North Yuba Visitor Center, 1-530-288-3232

Highway 80 to Truckee. Exit Highway 89 north to Sierraville. Highway 49 west 10 miles to Bassetts. North on the Gold Lake Highway and 1.5 miles to Sardine Lake/Packer Lake Road. Turn left, cross small bridge, and bear right on Packer Lake Road. Pass Packer Lake and bear left at fork. Follow signs to Pacific Crest Trail trailhead. Continue to small parking area.

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Reviews (486)
Photos (892)
Activities (400)
Completed (1,037)
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Sertan Usanmaz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 10, 2021
HikingGreat!Snow

Completed this hike on Friday 4/9 - there was still a lot of snow. The Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout is an incredible trail with amazing views at the top. For a few years, this hike has been on my to do list, the fire lookout is only accessible via a pretty sketchy set of staircases to a bluff with 360-degree views. You can even see Mt. Lassen, 100 miles away on a clear day. I finally got the chance to check it off my list, and let me tell you, it is one of my top ten hikes in California. The trail itself it was very well maintained with patchy snow in certain areas. We brought micro spikes but didn’t have to use them. You will gain about 3000 feet in elevation on your way to the top over 4.5 miles (9 miles round trip). Make sure you bring a beer to crack open at the top to celebrate your achievement! for more dope hiking adventures - follow me on my Instagram account! @sertanusanmaz Happy trails!

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David Wentworth
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Hiking
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Brooke Peiler
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Hiking

Awesome hike! The elevation and steep incline made for a few stops along the way to the top but the views from the lookout tower were amazing!

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Ryan Carter
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Backpacking
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Becky S
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HikingGreat!
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Tracy Reynolds
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Hiking

Indescribably beautiful views! Butt-kicking hike with some steep inclines, but so worth it! This trail tested me physically and mentally. I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone for the climb to the top!

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flip m.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 25, 2020
HikingGreat!

Butt kicker and thigh burner but the views were all worth it!!

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Csilla Szőllősi
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Hiking
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Bob Smith
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Hiking
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Olga Dobrovolskaya
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Hiking
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Kerry Fantham
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Hiking

Busy trail but beautiful all the way up and all the way down.

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Judy Benson
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HikingGreat!
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varun maniar
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Hiking
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Ann Koffler
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HikingGreat!

Hiked this in July 2020, it was only my second hike EVER and I thought I was going to die! I wanted to give up damn near every ten minutes! Yes, this is a hard hike with challenging incline almost straightaway. It is well worth the pain as you are gifted with absolutely stunning views of the Sardine lakes and the Sacramento Valley. I am also afraid of heights, perhaps this feat helped me overcome that fear a little bit. Now that I have been on several hikes this one is one of my favorites and hope to return someday.

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Kat Lynch
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Hiking

so hard; so worth it.

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Sierra-Rayne Bottega
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 15, 2020
Hiking

Hands down, one of the best hikes that I’ve done in awhile! Challenging with the incline and elevation gain, but the views along the way to the top are stunning as well. Climbing to the top of the lookout tower will test your fear of heights, but the 360* views are all worth facing them! I stopped for lunch and enjoyed the scenery looking out at Sardine lakes. Was a little busy during the afternoon, but I ventured off on some rocks where there wasn’t as many people. I highly recommend this trail. Bring water, some lunch, & don’t forget to enjoy the views along the way to the top.

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Natalia P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 15, 2020
HikingGreat!

This was a great hike! Pretty short with views that are well worth the effort. Honestly I didn’t think the hike was too hard until the last half mile. What made it difficult was the incline & wind! It was SO windy up there so be prepared! Oh also, if you’re afraid of heights this may not be the hike for you, it can be a bit scary on those stairs

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AllTrails User
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HikingGreat!

A great hike with epic view!

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Mike Hutchings
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HikingGreat!

That was one of the most challenging hikes I have done. It was definitely a reminder to start getting fit again. BUT, the reward was worth the grind. The smoke shortened the vista significantly but it was still unbelievably beautiful. My 8 year old killed it too!

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Anja Van Elgort
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HikingGreat!

The day was truly magical! Very few people out today. Had the look out to myself. Lots of wind with a little chill so be prepared. Crazy blue skies with no smoke. The trail is awesome!

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Chris Nosko
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Hiking
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Marcella Pittman
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HikingGreat!

absolutely amazing trail. very challenging hike a little over 1500ft gain in elevation in 2.5 miles, so worth it when you reach the top. park in the lot at the trail head. its just past the paved road.

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Quinn Gardner
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HikingGreat!

We hit this on July 19th and ... this was hands down the most physically demanding hike I’ve ever been on. Not at all easy - but one that every self respecting hiker in NorCal should tackle at some point in their hiking career. Gorgeous, stunning, breath taking are all words that don’t do justice to describing the views from the top. Can’t even imagine what it must have been like being stationed there! We will definitely do this one again (just perhaps when we’ve gotten in better shape! LOL!).

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Lara Kramer
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Hiking

Great!

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Julie Nguyen
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Hiking

8/21/20: Gorgeous trail, just picked the wrong day to hike it. Hazy the entire way up, but the trees and flowers were beautiful. I can only imagine how lovely it'd be on a nice day. Idk how, but I got lost about 1 mile in, just follow the rocks! The trail is wide and well-marked. It's moderate for the most part. Hardest part for me were the switchbacks leading up to the lookout tower. It was cold and WINDY at the tower, so I'd recommend a lightweight jacket. Last note, definitely park across from the OHV sign. You'll drive a short distance onto the gravel road and the lot will be on your left, directly next to the trail. I parked at the first lot on the left and had to hike uphill when heading back to the car. I'm too tired for that!

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Amber Baker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2020
HikingGreat!

A good hike with an amazing view. Bring lots of water, sunblock, & lunch at the lookout is great idea too.

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Kara & Rex Rountree
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
HikingGreat!

Holy switchbacks Batman, the trek to the Sierra Buttes Lookout is no joke! This hike definitely tested some fears. The stairs at the top to the fire watch station were insane. Seeing the rock many feet beneath each step was quite unnerving. But, I got out of my head and did it anyway. Thank you body for just doing as you were told and not giving me any lip! Once at the top there was a 360 degree breathtaking view of “incredible”. We felt like we stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia. Up at the top, you could see for miles and miles, just forest and mountains, no towns or cities. It was like being teleported to the past when California was undiscovered. Apple Watch Stats: Miles: 5.4 Elevation Gain: 1,709 Wow: 1,500ft in first 2 miles!

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Frank Dowling
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Hiking

Magnificent hike. Rated difficult but only if you’re in extremely poor shape. While it’s almost all uphill, it’s not at all technical and there’s plenty of places to rest. The views and wild flowers combine to make this a very special hike.

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Steve Doughty
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Hiking
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