The Lost Sierra Route Plans to Connect 15 Mountain Towns Over A 600-mile Stretch
The Connected Communities Project (CCP) recently announced its plans to establish The Lost Sierra Trail – a 600-mile route that will connect the city of Reno, Nevada to 15 mountain communities in the “Lost Sierra” region of California. The communities on the planned route include the towns of Truckee, Loyalton, Sierraville, Sierra City, Downieville, Quincy, Graeagle, Portola, Taylorsville, Greenville, Jonesville, Chester, Westwood, and Susanville.
Aside from furthering access to outdoor recreation in the area, the trail strives to support local communities impacted from persistent wildfires, a downfall in tourism after the 2020 pandemic, and the loss of the region’s mining industry.
CCP is a collaboration between the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, the US Forest Service, and multiple community partners in the Lost Sierra region. Each community along the planned route is active in developing the plan for the trail, and has included input on the best neighboring landscapes to travel though, as well as suggested camping locations and notable viewpoints. Additionally, the communities have each pinpointed unique offerings specific to their area that CCP is planning to highlight along the route – differences in terrain, nature, food, and historical sites plan to be included to name a few.
“It 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, Lassen, and Nevada counties,” The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship explains. “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.”
The trail will also traverse the headwaters of the Yuba and Feather Rivers, which are key watersheds for the state of California, and deliver over 65% of the state’s clean drinking water.
The Lost Sierra Trail is planned to be established as “A Trail For Everyone” that is designated as a multi-use route. Current plans suggest the trail will allow hikers, mountain bikers, moto riders, equestians, and hunters to travel through its corridor.
Similar to the nearby PCT and JMT, the trail will traverse jagged peaks and high alpine meadows, however will be significantly harder to thru-hike. The route is not planned to be a loop or straight path – instead it will be closer to a webbed trail network that connects each town through a multitude of different routes.
Construction is expected to cost $40.3M and will be funded by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and partnerships, donations, and philanthropy funded through Sierra Butte Trails Stewardships. Notable donors include REI Co-op, Clif Bar, Patagonia, The Pacific Crest Trail Association, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
While small sections of trail are already completed near Susanville, Downieville, Sierra City, and Graeagle, ground breaking for the rest of the route is planned to start in 2023. The first two sections on the list are The Quincy to Taylorsville connection, and the East Zone Connectivity and Restoration Project – 10 miles of trail in total. Additionally, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy was recently awarded funding to enter into environmental review on trail segments that will connect Loyalton and Sierraville to the East Zone Connectivity and Restoration Project.
The rest of the trail system is expected to be finished in just 7 years with a planned compilation date in December of 2030. Information on funding, predicted economic impacts, and project phases can be found on sierratrails.org/connected-communities/.
Looking to help with the completion of the trail network?
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is hosting three volunteer weekends to assist with trail construction. Quincy Epic Weekends are scheduled for April 28-30 and September 22-24, while the Lakes Basin Epic Weekend is scheduled for August 18-20. Those interested can get more details on sierratrails.org.
For project updates please check out Trails Master Plan or email the Connected Communities Project Coordinator, Trinity Stirling. More information can also be found by watching the Sierra Butte Trails Stewardships’s short film, A Trail for Everyone.
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