Tahoe National Forest

Butcher Ranch Trail Sierra Buttes Area

Mileage: 4 miles, one-way
Elevation: 6,200 to 4,320 feet
Difficulty: Difficult
Use Level: Light
Season: June through September
Topographic Map: Sierra City 7.5'

Access: Approximately five miles east of Sierra City on Highway 49, turn onto Gold Lake Highway at Bassetts Station. Continue on Gold Lake Highway for one and four-tenths mile, turn left, and cross the bridge over Salmon Creek. Proceed three-tenths mile and turn right onto Packer Lake Road. Continue on Packer Lake Road for two and one-half miles to Packer Lake. At this point the road forks. Take the left fork, Forest Road 93 (Packer Saddle Road). Continue two and one-tenth miles to Packer Saddle and turn left, following the sign reading "Sierra Buttes Lookout 3 and Pauley Creek 5." After one-half mile Forest Road 93 makes a 90 degree turn to the right. Follow this another one-half mile to a sign reading "Butcher Ranch 1, Pauley Creek 4." Take the right fork, proceeding seven-tenths mile to a sign directing you to the trailhead. As indicated, the road is steep and is recommended for four-wheel drive vehicles only. There is another access road three-tenths mile farther. This road is not as steep, but recommended for heavy, high-clearance, or four-wheel-drive vehicles. You are advised to park passenger cars or light trucks here and hike the last mile to the trailhead.

There are several options for hiking in this area. Those who can arrange transportation may wish to hike from Butcher Ranch to the Second or Third Divide trailhead. Second Divide is the longer and more scenic of the two. For those returning to the Butcher Ranch trailhead, Pauley Creek Trail offers a scenic two-mile detour. Ambitious hikers may wish to follow the Butcher Ranch Trail to the crossing of Pauley Creek and return via the same trail.

Trail Description: This description will cover the trail to the junction of Second and Third Divide Trails. For the other alternatives, please refer to the applicable descriptions.

Butcher Ranch Trail follows the contour of Butcher Ranch Creek for one and one-half miles to the confluence of Butcher Ranch and Pauley Creek. The Pauley Creek Trail begins here. Those continuing down the Butcher Ranch Trail will parallel Pauley Creek with its beautiful deep pools. The trail crosses Pauley Creek after another two miles and continues the final half-mile to the junction with Second and Third Divide Trails. This is a particularly scenic trail, especially in July when the wildflowers are in bloom. Fishing in Butcher Ranch Creek is reported good to excellent. Backpackers will find sufficient campsites when exploring this area.

Return to Tahoe Hiking

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »