"City" is a nebulous term when it refers to a population that last clocked in at 221 at the 2010 census, but Sierra City gets a lot of action. With its craggy mountains, endless natural gardens, the winding Yuba River and a history deeply entrenched in the California Gold Rush, there’s always plenty of things to do in Sierra City. It’s a town for adventure, and those who are fortunate to pass by it are explorers in their own right, many of them having made the stop along the arduous Pacific Crest Trail that passes through most of California’s Sierra Nevada region. Travelers not hiking the Pacific Crest Trail can reach Sierra City by driving one hour north from Truckee and I-80, which connects Reno and Sacramento.
Rivers, mountains, trails, valleys, falls. There’s never a straight path anywhere on the Sierra Buttes, and it’s all the jagged peaks and the daunting lows that make this huge terrain as beautiful it is. Its campgrounds are accommodating for fishers, swimmers, boaters, outdoorsy cooks, Winnebago couples and equestrians with trailers in tow. And at the top, 100 feet above the ground, the views are breathtaking in every season.
For serious hikers, this 2,663 mile trail hits its peak at the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. The entire trail crosses California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia and passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks, but only the most extreme of hikers attempt to traverse the expanse – this is not an easy hike, and the views from the top of the Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are ones that must be earned.
In the 1850s, gold was struck in Sierra City, establishing California as the true "Golden State." The mines are no longer in operation, but the legacy continues through the Kentucky Gold Mine and Museum where visitors get a chance to check out a real operating stamp mill, a Pelton wheel used for dynamite drilling, a blacksmith shop, and a museum for further education.
This is an attraction that keeps growing. It’s a seven-acre groomed garden with a Spirit Pond, surrounded by 23 acres of wild gardens and hiking trails that lead to a waterfall on Highway 48. On the grounds are a dining area that offers weekend barbecues under tall pine trees. This is a place to find endless beautiful blooms, both natural and planted, a serene site for personal reflection, and a challenging hike for an after-lunch adventure.
Who needs HBO when there’s a world outside your backdoor? Located at the base of Sierra Buttes, there are gorgeous views from every room. With the Yuba River crawling along the back of the resort with the mountain backdrop and spectacular waterfalls, "escape" is no longer a moving picture in a box; it’s a tangible paradise to go and walk around in.
The Buckhorn is no stranger to backpackers stopping in for a hot meal on their journey across the Pacific Crest Trail – in fact, there are even lodging rooms that are rented out of the second floor of the historic building. They serve all three meals in a beautiful garden setting with a creek that runs through the dining area, and with nine kinds of burgers to choose from and a classic all-American dinner menu that includes grilled salmon, prawns and rib-eye steaks, it’s a little taste of home away from home.