Northern California’s Sierra Buttes, nicknamed ‘the Lost Sierra’ due to its relative lack of fame compared to nearby Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, boasts a wonderland of 2,600 metre-high rugged peaks dotted with stunning turquoise, often glacially carved lakes. This is untamed natural countryside and whether you’re exploring by car or on foot, it’s easy to lose yourself in the wonders of isolation and spectacularly wild scenery. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:
Gold Lake, the biggest of the Sierra lakes is a joy to discover. Not only can you walk within its immediate surroundings, you can sit on it aboard a public or rented boat as you carve through the calm waters. Alternatively swim or fish in it or sail or windsurf when the afternoon breezes pick up.
The entire area is renowned for its excellent fishing, hiking, birding, wild flowers and outstanding natural beauty. You may also spot soaring eagles and osprey, deer and otters.
Sunset is the time to kick back and relax, perhaps with cocktails at the lakeside gazebo of the quiet, family-run Sardine Lake Resort or at the luxury Nakoma Golf Resort. Campers have a dozen campsites to choose from, including the perfect family-friendly sites at Sardine Lake, Salmon Creek and Lakes Basin.
Excellent hiking and cycling
Ready to let your rugged side roam free? The Lost Sierra won’t fail to oblige with its countless trails for all fitness levels. Kids and elderly folk love to romp along the easy trails leading to Upper Sardine Lake or Frazier Falls. Alternatively, gentle cycle rides through the area’s dry, dusty pine forests are just as much fun.
More adventurous hikers often look to conquer the Lakes Basin’s main challenge: the 178 steps to the Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout. It’s an 8 kilometre round trip hike to the lookout tower’s base, after which you can test your tolerance of vertigo as you climb to its deck. If the ascent didn’t make you dizzy, the 360 degree view may well do. The panorama includes the impressive 3,187 metre often snow-capped Lassen Peak and the turquoise Sardine Lakes, glimmering 600 metres below.
Drive through the winding wilderness to the Lost Sierra and you’ll reach a collection of small, remote towns about an hour northwest of Truckee and wild enough to make it quite easy to stumble across a rogue bear or a typical, rustic log cabin or two.
Since the Gold Rush, Sierra Nevada towns such as Graeagle, Blairsden and Clio have attracted nature lovers due to their crisp alpine air, clear blue lakes and relaxed pace of life. But the region isn’t only about untamed wilderness: Modern touches in every town blend well with the natural scenery creating remote getaways that offer adventure and relaxation all in one.