Bob and me in Sierra City

A visit to historic town offers stunning views, river access, talks with friendly locals
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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On our first evening walking around Herrington’s Sierra Pines Resort in historic Sierra City, I remarked to my traveling companion how sweet it seemed to live in such a small town at the base of the majestic Sierra Buttes.

“You’d just walk around and know everyone in town, and wave and say, ‘Oh hi, Bob,’” I said.

Sure enough, the next afternoon, we met Bob.

He is one of 225 residents living in Sierra City, which was founded in the 1850s as a mining town. Bob told us about his nearly four decades living there, his memory of the hippie haven it once was and his time working for the Forest Service.

He chatted with us outside Sierra Country Store on Main Street, where locals and tourists congregate to purchase supplies, order a yummy bowl of potato salad or a tasty chicken sandwich at the deli counter.

“I’m watching the snow melt,” Bob explained.

That bonding moment was one of several highlights from three days spent in Sierra City, located in Tahoe National Forest. We stayed at Herrington’s Sierra Pines Resort in a well-kept, charming cabin-like room with wood paneling, a flat-screen television and a balcony overlooking a waterfall and the rushing North Yuba River.

Our enjoyable journey began earlier, though, as my companion and I drove the two hours from Roseville on Highway 49 to the base of the buttes, whose peaks tower 8,600 feet.

We oohed and ahhed the whole way, and said the word “pretty” so many times I lost count. I quickly learned that one beautiful sight is soon eclipsed by another natural splendor even more breathtaking.

We arrived at Herrington’s Sierra Pines Resort and met Mike Herrington, who runs the operation with his wife, Bev. His father, Hugh, opened the resort — they own 50 acres, on both sides of the highway and river — “for fun” 47 years ago.

The 95-year-old returns to the resort often, sitting on a bench outside or in the restaurant on the premises as he converses with guests.

We ate delicious meals in the restaurant, which serves breakfast and dinner daily. One evening, my friend feasted on a pork chop and vegetables. I’m a vegetarian and although the menu consisted of meat dishes, the cooking staff readily accommodated my dietary restrictions.

The restaurant serves fresh rainbow trout from the fish pond out front. Our server suggested we pay 25 cents to feed the trout. It’s fun, she said. So we did and the fish went crazy, scrambling over one another to gobble up the food, as we watched and giggled.

On our second day, my companion and I drove five miles and turned left on Golden Lake Road where we encountered amazing views of the Sierra Buttes. People we met described this side of the buttes as reminiscent of the Swiss Alps and “stunning.” They were right.

Within a radius of nine miles from the resort, there are more than 20 sparkling lakes ideal for boating, hiking, sightseeing and fishing.

We explored Sardine Lake, which boasted several fishermen relaxing in their boats. Because of the late snowfall, some trails were flooded and roads closed. But that didn’t matter. The remaining snow added to the gorgeous scenery.

We made it up the road to Salmon Lake, which was still covered with snow. No one else was there, and we sat and ate lunch and snapped photos.

I thought this vacation would be relaxing, and it was, but there was also plenty of hiking involved, including a trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, accessible from trailheads on Highway 49.

Besides the natural beauty and delightful accommodations, one of the best parts of the trip was the lack of cell phone service in the forested area. For those three days, I felt totally disconnected from the outside world. It was great.

Sena Christian can be reached at


Herrington’s Sierra Pines Resort
104 Main St. in Sierra City
Hours: Open through October
Cost: Rooms $79 to $140 (kitchen unit) per night
Info: Call (530) 862-1151 or visit