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Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout

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  • The Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • The lookout is perched on the precipice of the 8,587-foot Sierra Buttes.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • Steep metal stairs lead up the summit block to the lookout.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • The view southeast toward the Tahoe Basin.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • Upper and Lower Sardine lakes are directly below summit. - Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • Looking south into the North Fork of the Yuba River watershed.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • On a clear day, Lassen Peak (10,457') can be seen to the north.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • - Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • The Sierra Buttes Trail, which overlaps with a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail, begins at Packer Lake Saddle.- Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
  • - Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Views from the top of Sierra Buttes. Scenic hike.
Cons: 
Height factor may be an issue for some.
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Region:
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

At 8,587 feet, Sierra Buttes is the tallest peak in the Lakes Basin region, the northernmost section of the Sierra. The peak is a commanding geologic feature, rising 4,500 feet above the North Yuba River Canyon on one side and 2,800 feet above Lakes Basin on the other.

The multiple craggy pinnacles of Sierra Buttes rise dramatically from it's summit ridge, and one is home to a precariously perched fire lookout tower that has some hair-raising exposure. Originally constructed in 1915, the former lookout tower was operated by the Forest Service and remains accessible to hikers exploring the area. Here you can test your appetite for heights by climbing the steep metal stairs 150 feet above the access trail and by taking in the views from the grated platform that surrounds the structure.

Being the highest point in the region, vistas from the top of Sierra Buttes are hard to beat. Views stretch from Lassen Peak 100 miles to the north down to Castle Peak near Donner Pass to the south. The south side drop toward Sierra City and the North Yuba River Canyon is impressive.

A handful of scenic lakes lie below the northeast aspect of Sierra Buttes, including Tamarack, Young American, and Sardine Lakes. If heights are not your thing, stay clear of the corner of the viewing platform facing Sardine Lakes, which drops 300 feet to the rocky slopes below.

Hikers can reach the lookout tower from the Sierra Buttes Trailhead, which climbs roughly 1,600 feet over 2.5 miles and shares a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The hike is best done between June through October, when roads are open and snow-free.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(40 within a 30 mile radius)

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