18 miles
2,784 ft
-8,090 ft
2 miles
High Point

While Tower-to-Town can describe any route between the Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout Tower and the town of Downieville, this route is (almost) the most direct. The ride starts from the Packer Saddle shuttle drop and goes up to the fire tower and it's other worldy views at the top of the Sierra Buttes. You'll do a combination of hard riding and a bit of hike-a-bike to get there, but it's worth doing at least once. You can even brave the steps of the tower to get a top-of-the-top view into the Lakes Basin and beyond.

The good news is, it's mostly downhill from here. Point your bike downhill and let er rip back to the shuttle drop, across Sunrise and the Butcher Ranch singletrack which weaves it's way until you hit The Gorge,a perhaps bloated name for a techy gully feature that marks the 'game on' point of Butcher.

From there it's a combo of black diamond rock gnar, alternating with smooth (and sometimes quite dusty) magical dirt trailbed. You'll encounter The Waterfall and The Wall—most likely with a stopped rider or two on or around them. Be courteous as you announce your presence and show them how it's done (or pull over—well outside the riding line—to watch someone else do it.

Most of this route is the 'Downieville Downhill', but you could do a Tower-to-Town route that includes the Gold Valley Rim to Pauley route, or even Big Boulder.

As rides go, don't make this your first one if you're a rookie. Do the 'standard' Butcher Ranch downhill and add options on subsequent runs.

Local Trail Association
Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (www.sierratrails.org)
Please consider joining or donating to the local riding association to support trail development & maintenance.
donate to earn trail karma!


Post a Comment

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login


  • Riding area
  • AKA
  • Difficulty rating
    Black Diamond
  • Route Type
  • eBike Allowed
  • Bike type
  • Direction
    One Direction
  • Physical rating
More Stats for Downieville Tower to Town mountain bike route
  • Altitude change
    -5,306 ft
  • Altitude min
    2,897 ft
  • Altitude start
    8,207 ft
  • Altitude end
    2,901 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    5 miles
  • Distance down
    12 miles
  • Distance flat
    4,520 ft
no votes yet
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Ridden Direction

Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.

  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
Trail Ridden Direction

The intendid direction a trail should be ridden.

  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction

Trail Difficulties
  • Access Road/Trail
  • White
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Double Black Diamond

Trail Report Status
  • Clear / Green
  • Minor Issue / Yellow
  • Significant Issue / Amber
  • Closed or Major Issue / Red

  • Land Owner Overlay
  • Wilderness (typically no bikes in USA)
  • BLM (public)
  • USFS (Wildlife sanctuaries darker than usfs)
  • State land
  • Indigenous
  • Military
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
  • Map Markers
  • trail Trail Head
  • photo Photo
  • place Directory Listing
  • region Riding Area
  • Parking Parking
  • Viewpoint Viewpoint
  • Information Information
  • Warning Warning
  • Directions Directions
  • Water Fountain/Source Water Fountain/Source
  • Sight Sight
  • Restrooms Restrooms
  • Gate Gate
  • Camping Camping
  • Trail Sign Trail Sign
  • Table or Bench Table or Bench
  • Other Other
      Trail transparency

      Recent Trail Reports Along Route

      First Divide
      Nov 11, 2018 @ 1:19pm
      Nov 11, 2018
      Main St.
      Nov 11, 2018 @ 1:19pm
      Nov 11, 2018
      Third Divide
      Nov 4, 2018 @ 9:27am
      Nov 4, 2018
      Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail
      Nov 4, 2018 @ 9:27am
      Nov 4, 2018
      Sunrise Trail
      Oct 27, 2018 @ 11:19am
      Oct 27, 2018
      Loose lots of braking bumps
      more reports »
      • flag
      • login to download gpx or kml files.