There have been a lot of hikes I have wanted to go on. The best part is that I am currently in a position to do just that. To get outside and enjoy life—one of those, What Makes You Happy moments. I decided yesterday that I was going to go hike part of the Sierra Buttes. The one specific location was the lookout access trail. There are some fantastic views.
I recently read an excellent blog by a guy named Josh. He had some awesome photos of the hike as well! (Click this link if you want to check it out). Interestingly, he went a few months ago, and the weather was great. As for me, well, you will see later that I was the only one out there and was not able to make it to the lookout. It was sad.
But, getting outside with fresh air and amazing views makes it worth it.
Important note, so that you know. I am running my site ad-free, this makes me happy as I hope it does to you as well. If you happen to follow and buy something through one of the links below, I may earn a small commission. This costs you nothing extra, and it helps me support local businesses and keep this site ad-free! Check out my full disclosure for more info.
The Drive and Location
I drove through Nevada City, which, if you have never been, could be a few articles by itself. It’s a small town but very relaxing and has an older vibe. I then drove for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and you drive past a lot of really cool places like the independence trail (another hike I will be doing very soon) and multiple river access areas. You then proceed through North San Juan (that has always been an exciting place), Downieville, and finally Sierra City.
Important note, or at least I think so, is that I found a public bathroom next to the Mason Lodge, and that was an impressive and much-needed surprise. All the other restrooms I passed, most of which were at closed campgrounds, were not open.
After a quick pit stop, I drove up a one-lane road. The speed limit is 15 MPH, and that is important because it’s a tight squeeze with two cars passing. With this trip, that happened four times, but we all made it pass safely. At the end of the paved road, you end up at a recycling place.
I was going to drive up the gravel and dirt road but soon choose against it. There were a lot of branches and jagged rocks everywhere. I didn’t want to get stranded, so I parked at the bottom and started my hike.
Overall, this was an easy and beautiful drive. I will say that if you get motion sickness, you should be the one driving or take some meds. A quick look at a map and you will see the road is far from straight.
If you have an excellent all-wheel or 4×4 vehicle, you can make it up quickly. Due to planning a road trip, that I’m leaving for in just over a week! Again, I decided not to drive on the unmaintained road. It would have sucked to get a flat tire.
So I decided to park at what I consider the base (it is near a recycling place). I then walked for about 3.5 or 4 miles to the trailhead. You can see that I encountered snow around 6,400′. That I did not plan for, and it became challenging to know where the trail was to the lookout. After about 100 yards, I decided that it was time to turn around sadly. About 15 minutes later, the temperature dropped, and I saw a very dark cloud over me. I then felt a lot better about turning around. Never mind, I was the only person out there, and I had about three hours of daylight left.
The views that I was able to see were amazing.
Random Hiking Thoughts
I have thrown around writing a blog about the gear I use while hiking. There are a lot of other blogs and articles out there on the subject, but here is one thing I will mention. Trekking poles!
I stayed away from these for a long time. Last year I purchased a pair, and I will say it’s pretty amazing. There are a few benefits to them. Not to mention they saved me a handful of falls during this trip. I almost twisted my ankle, but the poles kept me, and they were super helpful when I encountered the snow too!
With that said, people misuse the poles. There is a correct and incorrect way to use the wrist straps.
Planning to go Back
I’m super bummed that I didn’t get to make it to the top. Walking through the snow, I was amazed at how much it saps out your energy (granted I was wearing cross-trainers and shorts), but you understand. I am excited to go back in a few months and see more incredible views. It helps that it is a quick trip for me.
I think spending some time in Sierra City would be a lot of fun too. It’s a tiny town, but it looks like a few cool places to stay and a restaurant to check out. Stay tuned on my trip back 🙂 Also, if you are in the area this summer, let me know, and we can make it a group thing!
Where have you hiked recently? Are you planning any hiking trips this summer, and if so, where? Let me know in the comments below!
One last thing, thanks to MSR Arms for the hat. I’ve been wearing it a lot lately, and it’s going with me on my road trip too! Click the photo below or the link above to check them out (trust me, it’s worth it).
Check out a short video I made with a few photos, click here to watch it.