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Camptonville to Yuba Pass Yuba River Scenic Byway

Scenic Byways or Routes
Sierra Buttes – Amy Gerbic

The Yuba River Scenic Byway was designated a California State Scenic Highway on July 14, 1971 and became part of the 175-mile Yuba Donner National Forest Scenic Byway in 1992. This 41.2-mile section of California Highway 49 travels through Sierra County and the Tahoe National Forest. The western end of the route starts at the Yuba/Sierra County line east of Camptonville and climbs east and north to Yuba Pass. Elevations range from 1,500 feet on the Middle Yuba River to 6,700 feet at Yuba Pass.

The Yuba River Scenic Byway provides a spectacular scenic driving experience while following the North Fork of the Yuba River canyon. Situated among rugged mountains and gentle valleys, the landscape offers astonishing views of woodlands full of pines, firs, junipers, oaks and wildlife. Views from the byway let road travelers feel the vast, ruggedness of the area. Big Leaf Maple and Aspens provide visually pleasing fall colors that are rare in a conifer-dominated landscape. Aspen stands are scattered along Highway 49, but historically they likely dominated much of the corridor between Bassetts to Yuba Pass. Mountain meadows at Yuba Pass are a springtime favorite for the wildflowers and trees bursting with new leaves.

This section of Highway 49 is a two-lane paved highway that is owned, operated and maintained by the State of California. California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) District 3 is responsible for maintaining the byway and keeping it accessible throughout the year. Winter weather closures, implemented by gates, can occur between mile marker 16.4 and 23.7.

Driving Directions

From Sacramento, take eastbound I-80 and State Route 49 north to Camptonville, the byways gateway from the western side. On I-80 from Reno via Truckee, take northbound 89 to State Route 49 south(west) to get up to the eastern gateway of the byway at Yuba Pass.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

As part of the 175-mile Yuba Donner Scenic Byway loop, the route has recreational opportunities, scenic vistas and history soaked in Gold Rush and pioneering heritage. The byway travels at river level along lengthy stretches of the North Yuba River providing views of placer mining tailings and direct access to Gold Rush era placer mining camps and towns. Many nationally significant gold-mining, Native American, emigrant and transportation heritage sites are located along the route. The Yuba River Scenic Byway's proximity to historic towns such as Downieville, Sierra City and Bassetts Station provides the byway traveler access to outstanding cultural and historic areas.

Scenic gems accessible from the byway include Mountain House near Goodyears Bar, and Pauley Creek Falls just east of Downieville. North of the byway, near Downieville, Saddleback Lookout overlooks the entire Yuba River canyon. The North Yuba Trail traverse magnificent old growth forests. Outside of Sierra City, Loves Falls (on the Pacific Crest Trail) is a short walk from the highway, but a world away from the road.

Length of Byway or Route

41.2 -miles

Nearby Places