Coolin' it in the Sierra Buttes

By: Jean Lund, Placer Herald Publisher
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Get away from the intense Sacramento area heat for a few days in the 4,200 elevation in the lovely mountain town of Sierra City just about two and a half hours away off of I-80 to Auburn then about 87 miles straight up Hwy 49. What you will find there is a cool, pine forest laced with cold-water, rushing streams. Here, the Butte’s craggy tops are still filled with the results of a late, May snow. It’s perfect weather. Sierra City is just 12 miles up the road from Downieville. The area is rich in mining history and claims are still worked. Fishing of all types abound. Swimming holes, kayaking and miles of hiking make this area a place to get away and appreciate the beauty of nature. We checked in to the historic ranch resort; Herrington’s Sierra Pines ( The main, log-cabin building started out as a summer home for the owners in 1947. Our room had a covered balcony that overlooked the rushing Yuba River with a spectacular waterfall that is lit at night. Cell phones and computers don’t work here although our TV was hooked up with HBO. If you needed a computer, there was one available to use in the lobby of the main lodge. This was a perfect place for an excuse not to communicate except with each other. The resort is also pet friendly and AAA rated. The second generation owners, Mike and June Herrington, have been running this resort every summer for the past 30 years or so. They are great hosts and the attention to detail is obvious. Every meal we had in the restaurant was wonderful; from the trout almondine (freshly caught from their own pond) to the perfectly cooked filet minion. Breakfast is also served. There is a complete menu to choose. We had great service with outstanding views of the Buttes out of every window. The restaurant also has a full bar. When we weren’t sitting on our deck reading and watching the myriad number of birds, we were hiking on the property and enjoying the many views of the river from chairs placed at perfect vantage points. Sierra City is the gateway to the Lakes Basin where from Bassets Station; you drive up the road a piece and end up at the beautiful alpine lakes that make up this area. We rented a fishing boat with an electric motor on Lower Sardine Lake ($40 for a half day). There we lowered our anchor and languished in the boat where we had lunch and read. Directly above us loomed the snow-capped Buttes. It was gorgeous and relaxing. We missed it this time, but there are summer concerts at the historic Kentucky Mine in Sierra City. There is an amphitheater there and four more concerts are planned this summer. The next concert is July 17 with “Swing Fever,” a big band sound group. Go to to check for future shows and to purchase tickets. There is something for everyone in Sierra City not in the least getting out of the heat that has now arrived this summer.