Northern California Nature March 02, 2018
The World’s Smallest Mountain Range Is Right Here In Northern California And It’s Actually Breathtaking
Usually when you think of mountains in Northern California, amazing peaks like Mount Shasta, Mount Lassen, or the Siskiyou Mountains come to mind. Our region definitely has its fair share of towering mountain ranges. But did you know NorCal is also home to what is considered “the smallest mountain range in the world”? These “mountains” may be small, but they sure are beautiful. They definitely are worth a quick visit if you find yourself in the area.
Lying within the Great Valley of California and approximately 50 miles north of Sacramento are the Sutter Buttes. This awe-inspiring natural wonder is something that must be seen.
The buttes are often referred to as "the smallest mountain range in the world". However, they are not technically mountains. The buttes are the remnants of an ancient volcano that has remained dormant for over 1.4 million years.
The buttes form a small circle approximately 10 miles in diameter. The highest point can be found at the summit of the South Butte, at 2,122 feet, and is actually the highest point in all of Sutter County.
This place definitely has an enticing aura about it. It feels so serene here. It almost looks like a scene out of a Tolkien novel!
Sitting at the foot of the buttes is the small town of Sutter. Most of the land around the buttes is considered private property, although a portion of it belongs to the state and is to be turned into a state park.
The sight of farm animals meandering around the lush green buttes is definitely postcard-worthy. Spring is considered the best time to visit since that is when the buttes come alive with the blossoming of wildflowers.
Since a majority of the buttes are located on private land, it can be a challenge seeing them up close. However, it is possible. You can arrange a guided hike with a company called Middle Mountain Interpretive Hikes who have special permission from the landowners to lead the public to the buttes.
There's almost something spiritual about this place. The buttes are a prominent part of the indigenous Maidu and Wintun people's creation stories. According to the Maidu, this is where spirits would come before eventually moving on to the afterlife.
This place may not get the same attention that humongous peaks like Shasta does, but there's something incredibly unique about the buttes. This is by far one of the most unique natural wonders in California and is definitely worthy of a trip.
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