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Plan Your Adventure in Downieville, CA

Downieville, CA is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise that you can enjoy year-round. From mid-spring through fall, the gorgeous weather enables visitors to get in as many activities as are on their list. With little to no rainfall in the summer, you can expect sunny days just about every day, and with 14 hours of daylight, there’s no rush to get home! In the winter, Downieville turns into a snowy playground. Perfect for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, or just sitting by the fire.

Here are some of our favorite ways to take advantage of all there is to do in the Downieville area.

Activities by Season


Mountain Biking
White-Water Rafting
Paddle Boarding
Gold Panning


Mountain Biking
White-Water Rafting
Paddle Boarding
Gold Panning


Mountain Biking
White-Water Rafting
Paddle Boarding
Gold Panning


Hiking (Weather Permitting)
Snow Shoeing
Cross Country Skiing



With the Sierra Nevada Mountains as our backyard playground, it’s no surprise that hiking is one of the most popular activities and draws to Downieville. Even during winter, there is ample opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the trails on snowshoes. Check out these favorites.

Sierra Buttes

The Sierra Buttes trail is a moderate hike on the difficulty scale and is a 5.2-mile roundtrip hike if you make the entire trip. The payoff is immense as it offers one of the area’s most breathtaking views. However, be prepared to do some steep climbing up some stairs to get to this vantage point. Anytime from July to October is perfect for this day hike.

Bear Lakes & Long Lake Loop

This seven-mile loop trail is moderately challenging and can be completed in about 3 hours, based on the average speed. That said, there is a lot to do on the hike that might add time, such as bird watching, swimming, and fishing if you choose to include those in your adventure. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails. The “trail” portion ends at a campground, so the last half mile of the loop back to the parking lot is along a paved road.

Upper Salmon Lake Trail to Deer Lake & Horse Lake

Upper Salmon Lake is a popular spot for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and picnicking in the Lakes Basin region. The north side of the lake offers hiking that’s easy to navigate, but the south side is a little trickier. From the trailhead to the Salmon Lake Lodge on the north side is about a one-mile hike. You can continue on 1/8th of a mile to Horse Lake. If you want to continue to Deer Lake, it’s about another mile from Horse Lake. From there, you can pick up trails to the Pacific Crest Trail or the Packer Lake Lodge area.

Love Falls

Follow the Pacific Crest Trail from HWY 49 to view beautiful Loves Falls. Enjoy this easy 1.5-mile out-and-back trail, popular for fishing and hiking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are June through October.

Frazier Falls Trail

If you’re looking for an easy hike that still packs plenty of scenery, include the Frazier Falls Trail in your activity list. This trail is paved, and is therefore handicap accessible. The falls result from the snow melt-off from the heavy accumulation this area gets during the winter months. As the trail winds through the forest surrounded by huge granite boulders, you’ll enjoy the falls as they flow from the Lakes Basin into Frazier Creek and continue down to the Fork River. The roundtrip hike is 1.4 miles.

Second Divide Trail

Explore this 9.0-mile out-and-back trail which offers great views of Pauley Creek and takes you past a number of miners’ cabins.

Forest California

Friends Of Forest City (FOFC) is an independent group that has taken on the maintenance of a classic trail network with fast and flowy trails that start just past the town center at the information kiosk. As of mid-September 2019, all the trails have been thoroughly buffed out, and brought back from a severely neglected state. Riding past grazing cows in peaceful meadows, up and down low-risk switchbacks, over hand-built rock bridges, and with trails that pop out along the expansive Pliocene Ridge, you won’t find a prettier place to hike. Keep in mind that there are no services in Forest, and the closest town is Downieville, CA.



While the Downieville Downhill is certainly a must-do, there is an extensive trail system around Downieville that allows for much variety in distance, elevation gain and terrain. All trails have sections that are rocky with exposure, and all are remote with no cell service. Many of these trails were inaccessible except for the strongest of us, but first shuttles and now e-bikes have leveled the playing field, allowing for awesome loops to be put together taking you all over Tahoe National Forest from Downieville. Nearly all trails in the system are OHV, open to bikes, hikers, e-bikes, moto, and equestrians. We recommend that you have a map and check with the local bike shops for trail conditions and closures before you head out. Here are a few of the most popular in the area.

Downieville Downhill

The downhill competition stage in the Downieville Classic, the 15-mile downhill trail covers every type of terrain, from dirt trails in the forest and alpine landscapes to rough downhill patches and narrow paths. It starts high above the town of Downieville and descends 5,000 ft to end right in town. You can take the shuttle from town with one of our two shuttle services (Downieville Outfitters and Big Boulder Adventures), self-shuttle, or climb from town via a variety of fire road routes.

Gold Valley Rim Trail to Pauley Creek Trail or Big Boulder Trail

If you’re looking to add elevation gain and gorgeous vistas to your shuttle day, choose the Gold Valley Rim Trail from Packer Saddle and then continue on to Pauley Creek trail, which will drop you onto the bottom of Butcher Ranch Trail. Adding about 750 ft of climbing and 5 miles, this is the descent route taken during the Downieville Classic cross country stage. Alternatively, instead of Pauley Creek you can choose to tackle Big Boulder Trail, another beautiful descent that will drop you at the top of 3rd Divide Trail.

Empire Creek & Chimney Rock Trails

Empire Creek Trail is part of a larger trail system that takes you up to Rattlesnake Peak, where Chimney Rock Trail, Craycroft Ridge Trail and Empire Creek Trail meet. Within a few miles, views of both the Sierra Buttes and Chimney Rock are stunning. Empire Creek can be done as an out and back or connect to Chimney Rock, a stunning ridge trail, after which you have a few options from which to choose to bring you back to town. Rattlesnake Peak can also be accessed by 4x4ing up Red Oak OHV and taking a short hike on the Empire/Chimney Rock connector. These trails are very popular with Moto riders.

Downie River Trail

This narrow river trail features technical water crossings with steep drops and climbs, and can be done as an out and back from Downieville. Can also be accessed from Rattlesnake Peak via Chimney Rock Trail and Rattlesnake Creek Trail, which is a steep and loose wild ride!

North Yuba Trail

This 16 mile trail stretches from Downieville to Rocky Rest Campground, with a stop in Goodyears Bar halfway through to allow for shorter loops. A true river trail with lots of short ups and downs, you’ll experience many creek crossings and beautiful views of the Yuba River. Great for mountain biking and hiking.

Fiddle Creek & Halls Ranch Trails

One of the earliest trails to open in the spring, Fiddle Creek can be looped with Halls Ranch in a couple of different ways to create a 2000 vertical ft loop to a 4000+ ft loop, and provides views of the Sierra Buttes from the top.

Lavezzola Creek Trail

Steep and loose up top, flowy in the middle, and bench-cut river trail at the bottom, this trail has everything packed into 5 miles!



With temperatures in the 80s and sun expected every day during the summer, you can bet that swimming is one of the best activities Downieville has to offer, especially when it’s in the crystal clear and pure water running off the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And the best part? There are plenty of options safe for swimmers of all ages!

Yuba River Campgrounds

The Yuba River is dotted with many campgrounds as it winds through the Downieville area. The river creates natural boulder-lined swimming pools to enjoy a refreshing swim. With so many campgrounds along the river, there are plenty of opportunities to find a spot without a huge crowd.

Oregon Creek Day Use Area

The Oregon Creek Day Use Area is complete with picnic areas and restrooms for convenience. For those looking for a little more adventure, there’s a rope swing to notch up the fun. This is one of the most beautiful swimming holes found in the state.

Love Falls

As mentioned in the hiking section, Love Falls has a fantastic swimming area tucked away on the trail. A little walk is involved in getting there, but it’s only about 1/8th of a mile.

Sand Pond Picnic Ground & Beach

Who’s up for a picnic and swimming? Sand Pond is located within the Lakes Basin Recreation Area and is surrounded by beautiful views of the Sierra Buttes. You can reach the pond by either a short walk from Sardine Lake National Forest Campground or Sardine Lake Resort.

Gold Lake

This is the largest lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area and feeds Frazier Falls as it cascades down to the Middle Fork of the Feather River. The name comes from an old gold rush story by Thomas Robertson Stoddard, who claims he stumbled upon a lake lined with gold along the shores but was chased away by hostiles before collecting the gold. Today there are no hostiles, just welcoming recreational opportunities, including swimming, boating, and hiking trails.

Dine and Relax in Downieville

With so many activities, your days and nights will be jam-packed with exciting adventures, and eventually, you’ll need to take time to take care of yourself. Need to satisfy the hunger you’ve worked up from a day of biking? Visit La Cocina De Oro for delicious traditional American and Mexican dishes for lunch or dinner. Is it time to recharge after a long hike? We suggest treating yourself to some pampering at the Downieville Day Spa to refresh and rejuvenate!

Enjoy Your Time Among the Locals

One of the best activities in Downieville is just experiencing our small, historic gold rush town among the local residents. Downtown you’ll find trivia nights, live music, ice cream, coffee, and a fair-trade market at Empire Creek Provisions. Most of the shops and restaurants are open seven days a week. Come for the events and stay for the friendship!

Shopping, Spas & Attractions

Shopping, Spas & Attraction

Downieville Day Spa

Looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience in Downieville? Look no further than Downieville Day Spa, a small day spa with a big heart. Call (530) 289-3504 for an appointment or try your luck as a walk into the facility located at 309 Main Street inside the Mountain Messenger Building.

Run by a charming and friendly staff, this spa offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere that will make you feel right at home. Whether you’re looking for a massage, a facial, or any other spa service, you can trust that you’re in good hands with the skilled and knowledgeable team at Downieville Day Spa.

In addition to their exceptional spa services, the spa also features a wide variety of beauty staples such as hair products, makeup, and even men’s grooming supplies. So whether you’re in need of a full spa day or just looking to pick up some of your favorite beauty products, Downieville Day Spa has got you covered.

But what really sets this spa apart is the small-town experience they offer. You’ll feel like you’re among friends from the moment you walk in the door, and the staff’s warm and welcoming demeanor will help make the stresses of everyday life melt away.

Big Boulder Adventures

Attention all mountain bikers! If you’re looking for a great way to experience the best trails in Downieville, look no further than Big Boulder Adventures, the newest shuttle service in town – located right inside Yuba Expeditions and next to Empire Creek Provisions. Book right online at Led by local legend Billy Epps, a long-time resident and expert storyteller, Big Boulder Adventures offers an unforgettable experience for riders ready to try out the Downieville Downhill. With a professional shuttle crew and top-of-the-line equipment, you’ll be in good hands from start to finish.

One of the things that sets Big Boulder Adventures apart is Billy’s vast knowledge of the Lost Sierra region. As you ride up to the top of the mountain, he’ll regale you with fascinating stories and trivia about the area’s rich history and natural beauty. And if you brush up on your Lost Sierra knowledge, he’ll even reward you with wooden nickels that can be redeemed for a cold beer at Boomtown Lounge after your ride!

But the shuttle experience itself is also top-notch. You’ll travel in comfort and style up to the trailhead, with plenty of space for all your gear and equipment. And once you reach the top, you’ll be ready for an epic ride down some of the best trails in the region.

So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a up and coming rider ready to try our the world-renowned Downieville Downhill, come check out Big Boulder Adventures for a mountain biking experience you won’t soon forget.

Yuba Theater

Greetings, film fans! Have you had the pleasure of visiting the historic Yuba Theater in Downieville, CA? This charming movie house is a true gem, with a rich history that dates to the early days of cinema. For the latest information visit their website here:

Back in the 1940s, before the advent of television, the Yuba Theater was the place to be for residents who wanted to catch the latest newsreels and Hollywood films. For just $1, you could see all the shows, and popcorn was only 25 cents! It was a beloved gathering place for the community, and it’s still serving that same purpose today.

Today, the Yuba Theater is a special place for movies and events of all kinds. From the Banff Film Festival each spring to live plays, town-wide talent shows, community theater, musical performances, and more, this historic venue is always buzzing with activity.

But even as it continues to evolve and grow with the times, the Yuba Theater has never lost its charm and character. The original architecture and design are still intact, and there’s a real sense of history and nostalgia that permeates the space.

So if you’re looking for a truly special cinema experience, come on down to the Yuba Theater. You’ll be transported back in time to a simpler era, where the magic of the movies was still a brand-new experience. And who knows, you might even catch the next big thing in independent film!

Yuba Gallery

Greetings, fellow art lovers! Have you had the pleasure of visiting the Yuba Gallery in Downieville, CA yet? This charming blue building right on Main St. is home to an incredible collection of art that celebrates the natural beauty and creativity of the Sierra Nevada region.

Owned and operated by the Sierra Arts Council, the Yuba Gallery features works by many local and regional artists who are inspired by the stunning landscapes, forests, and rivers that surround Downieville. The art on display is as diverse and vibrant as the community itself, with everything from paintings, sculptures, and ceramics to jewelry, textiles, and mixed media.

And now, there’s even more to see at the Yuba Gallery. Vintage Gal Antiques has recently moved in, adding another layer of charm and character to this already delightful space.

The Yuba River, the forest, and the natural world are a huge influence on the art that’s on display here. You’ll find pieces that reflect the colors of the changing seasons, the textures of the river rocks, and the whimsy of the local wildlife. It’s a testament to the beauty and creativity of this special place we call home.

So come on down and soak up the creative energy of the Yuba Gallery. We’re so grateful to the artists who call this region home, and we’re thrilled to have such a vibrant and supportive art community right here in Downieville.

Mountain Messenger

Have you heard of the Mountain Messenger? It’s California’s oldest weekly newspaper, and it’s located right here in the heart of Downieville.

The Mountain Messenger has been serving the community of Downieville and surrounding areas since 1853, and it’s a true treasure trove of local news, stories, and history. But recently, the paper was on the verge of shutting down, until local hero Carl Butz stepped in to save the day. He even made a documentary about it called “Carl Saves the Paper,” which gives viewers a glimpse into the colorful town of Downieville and the important role the paper has played in the community over the years.

Now, visitors to Downieville can explore the rich history of the Mountain Messenger for themselves. The paper’s archives date back to the 1800s, and they offer a fascinating look at the people, places, and events that shaped the town’s past. You can even view old editions of the paper and get a sense of what life was like back in the frontier days.

So, if you’re looking to step back in time and experience a piece of California’s rich history, be sure to check out and subscribe to the Mountain Messenger. And don’t forget to thank Carl Butz for his heroic efforts in keeping this beloved newspaper alive and kicking!

Downieville Museum

Howdy partner! Have you checked out the historic Downieville Museum yet? It’s a stone building with original iron doors and window shutters that date back to 1852, giving you a taste of the wild west. Step inside, and you’ll find a treasure trove of artifacts that tell the story of the town’s colorful past. From gold mining equipment to old photographs, vintage clothing, and even a few tall tales, there’s something for everyone. You can learn about the town’s history, the people who shaped it, and how it became the charming mountain community it is today.

But it’s not just the exhibits that make the Downieville Museum a must-see destination. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they’re always ready to share a story or two about the town’s wild and woolly past. You’ll feel like you’re back in the 1800s as they regale you with tales of outlaws, prospectors, and pioneers who made their mark on this rugged frontier.

So, grab your hat and mosey on down to the Downieville Museum. It’s a little slice of the wild west that’s sure to delight and entertain visitors of all ages. The friendly staff is on hand to host visitors in the warmer months, so come on down and experience a taste of the old west for yourself!

Sierra Hardware

Sierra Hardware is a family-owned business that was founded in 1947 and located in the heart of Downieville, CA. They have been serving the local community and visitors for many years with their exceptional customer service and quality products. This is perhaps what customers enjoy most about the store. Nowadays, one can still find a vast selection of hardware, plumbing, paint, electrical, and sporting goods beyond the store’s swinging wooden door, and as a Department of Fish and Wildlife agent, one may also purchase fishing and hunting licenses. The store has built a strong reputation for being a reliable and trustworthy resource for locals and visitors alike. Their experienced staff is always ready to assist customers in finding the products they need, and they take pride in offering exceptional customer service.

One fun aspect of Sierra Hardware is their adorable pugs, who are always happy to greet guests and make them feel welcome. These cute little dogs add a charming touch to the store and are a big hit with visitors of all ages.

Sierra Hardware is a must-visit destination for anyone in Downieville, CA. With their cute pugs, diverse inventory, and outstanding customer service, it’s easy to see why they have been a staple in the community for so long.

Downieville Outfitters

Downieville Outfitters is a leading outfitter in Downieville, California, providing top-notch services to outdoor enthusiasts. They offer a range of services including mountain bike rentals, shuttles, guided tours, and trail work.

They provide is a shuttle service that transports mountain bikers and hikers to the trailheads throughout the area. With their well-maintained vehicles and experienced drivers, they ensure safe and convenient transportation to your destination, so you can focus on enjoying your adventure.

In addition to their shuttle service, Downieville Outfitters also plays an active role in maintaining and enhancing the trail network in the area. Their team of experienced trail builders works tirelessly to ensure the trails are in excellent condition, making them more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

Overall, Downieville Outfitters is an excellent choice for anyone looking to explore the outdoors in Downieville, California. Their shuttle service and trail work make it easy to explore the area’s incredible trails, ensuring that your adventure is both exciting and enjoyable. So, whether you’re a seasoned rider or a novice hiker, make sure to check out Downieville Outfitters for an unforgettable outdoor experience.

312 Main Street, Downieville, CA 95936, USA
Phone: 530-289-0155

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