Route: Sierra Buttes (CA)

Submitted by on Tue, 09/29/2020 - 04:22pm
California, US
4.58 mi
Vertical Gain
1,533 ft

The Sierra Buttes are a striking set of rocky peaks easily seen from the North Tahoe area, being considerably higher than anything in the surrounding area.  They create a beautiful backdrop to the Sardine Lakes, rising up in a stony wall on their northern side.  From the west and south, however, there are more mellow hiking trails.

Although primarily a hiking destination, offering spectacular views of the surrounding national forest, many people report snowshoeing, skiing, and ice climbing during winter ascents!  Some of the routes history, and directions, can be found at

Getting to the primary trailhead is very straightforward; the trailhead can be found on Google maps due west of the Buttes themselves, but Google maps will try to take you from Sierra City up a desperate 4wd road.  Instead, drive THROUGH Sierra City to Bassetts Junction and take Gold Lake Highway.  Following the Google maps from here will take you up a decently paved Packer Lake road to the trailhead.

The route is a highly runnable trail, making it more like an 8K sprint with 1,500 feet of gain!  A steep set of stairs finishes off the leg pump to the tower and it's commanding views before the descent.  A few unmarked junctions with jeep trails are easily navigated on the way up as you can see the tower at that point and head for it, but on the way down are a little more tricky at full speed so pay attention!  For the FKT, touch the base of the tower and run back down.

As you will see from Summitpost, it is a highly rewarding climb with unparalleled views for the area; definitely worth the visit and the run!

Photos on strava; i had issues uploading them here!

Brannon Forrester suggests a variation from Hwy 49. This route follows the PCT up the South side of the Buttes to connect with the summit trail to the fire lookout tower.  The route already has a Strava segment for the roundtrip as a benchmark, but again the elapsed time will be slightly different.