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Sierra Valley Channel, California

Scenic Byways or Routes
Sierra Valley, California – Andy Wright - Lighthawk Photo

Panoramic views and miles of open space highlight this region of Sierra County. Country charm and friendly people combine to make this spot ideal for family recreation in summer and winter.

Natural Attractions:

Sierra Valley is a large sub-alpine valley in the Sierra Nevadas. It is part of the continental crust that was dropped by the same faulting that raised the Sierra Nevada. The Overlook on Highway 49, east of Yuba Pass, provides a spectacular panoramic view of this beautiful valley and surrounding mountains.

On the Trail:

Hiking: Trails in the Sierra Valley area range from easy walks to rigorous climbs through thick conifer forests. The Cottonwood Overlook Trail is light to moderately difficult and provides panoramic views of the valley in several places along the trail. Dedicated hikers can climb the steep Badenaugh Trail up to the Babbit Peak lookout for an outstanding panoramic view of the local area of eastern California and western Nevada. Mountain bikers and equestrians share this trail with hikers.

The Cottonwood Creek Botanical Trail uses trail markers and a corresponding brochure to identify and describe trees and other plants on this easy walk. The Kyburz Flat interpretive area on Henness Pass Road east of Highway 89 explains the history of three different peoples who inhabited this beautiful mountain meadow starting 2,000 years ago. Maps and brochures are available free of charge. The Donner Camp Picnic Site located 5 miles south of the Sierra County line along Highway 89 looks out onto a meadow where members of the Donner Party camped through the winter of 1846. The picnic area and restrooms are wheelchair accessible.

OHV Trails: The Bear Valley Loop OHV Trail near Loyalton is 18 miles of pure exhilaration and scenic beauty. The trail is open late spring to fall.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

The Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway has two routes from I 80 to Sierra City: the Rivers Route through Auburn on the west and the Summits Route through Truckee on the east. All byway routes are all-weather highways and are open year around. Route closures due to snow are possible from October through April. Check local forecasts during changeable weather conditions.

Driving Times Entire Route - 3 hr. 15 min. Nevada City-Downieville - 1 hr. Downieville-Sierra City - 15 min. Sierra City-Sierraville - 30 min. Sierraville-Truckee - 30 min. Truckee-Nevada City - 1 hr.

Nearby Places