Hikers, bikers of all types, and, well, pretty much everybody in northern California and Nevada who enjoys outdoor recreation, can rejoice.
An ambitious effort is underway that will ultimately create a 600-mile network of multi-use trails connecting 15 northern California mountain towns and Reno, Nevada. The route, known as the Lost Sierra Route, will be the result of the Connected Communities Project — led by the U.S. Forest Service, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, and a lengthy list of community partners.
“This new trans-Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range route allows for all dirt trail travelers including hikers, mountain bikers, moto riders, equestrians, trail runners, hunters, fishermen, and wildlife — creating ‘A Trail for Everyone,’” Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) explains. “This route will link over 600-miles of multi-use trail traversing over breathtaking topography, jagged peaks, and high alpine meadows similar to the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail.”
Outdoor recreation in the U.S. is an $887 billion industry, and trail sports accounts for $201 billion of that, SBTS explains. It’s no surprise then that recreation on public lands stands to be a significant economic and cultural opportunity for rural communities because building trails on public lands has proven to create jobs, attract visitors and new businesses, and overall, improve the health and economy of mountain communities, SBTS continues.
When it’s finished, the Lost Sierra Route will “create a vision for a recreation-focused lifestyle through community investment, shared stewardship, economic opportunity, and important new local jobs, all benefiting economically disadvantaged communities in California’s Plumas, Sierra, Butte, and Lassen Counties,” SBTS notes.
“Our work will include planning, environmental review, trail creation, and maintenance of trails. It is the intent of this project to diversify recreation throughout the region, provide economic stability as well as support fire recovery and prevention efforts,” according to SBTS. “This project will create a learning landscape for outdoor and environmental education programs that include youth employment and volunteer participation. The end goal is to build the proposed Lost Sierra Route, paying homage to the region and the historic Gold Rush-era mail delivery route.”
The Mountain Towns
The Lost Sierra Trail network will weave through three California counties to connect the towns of Truckee, Loyalton, Sierraville, Sierra City, Downieville, Quincy, Graeagle, Portola, Taylorsville, Greenville, Jonesville, Chester, Westwood, and Susanville, as well as Reno, Nevada.
“Each mountain town has something unique to offer in terms of terrain, nature, adventure, food, camping — and they all have a rich history to experience,” SBTS notes. “Through our Planning Phase, we’ve collected input from community locals on what they’d like to highlight about their town, where they want trails to be located, and the outdoor experience the neighborhood topography and landscape has to offer.”
You can learn more about each of the towns here.
How To Help
The project calls for cutting new trails as well as building out existing trails between 2023 and 2030. The section of existing trails includes sections of historic mining and logging routes, which is how the Lost Sierra Trail will pay homage to the historic Gold Rush era.
You can learn more about the Trails Master Plan here.
SBTS notes that its work includes trail work by its professional trail crew, as well as youth trail crews, help from volunteers, festival events that draw international attention and participation, and support from local business.
If you want to help, you can learn how to make a donation to the Connected Communities Project here.
While you’re thinking about using the Lost Sierra Route, be sure to also read all of our California coverage, as well as our Outdoor Activities coverage. That’s where you’ll also find our Hiking and Biking coverage.