Packer Lake is on the way to the downhill. They have canoes for rent and lots of fishing. If you don't feel like eating fish you can dine at their restaurant. Many people do not know this, but they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday except Tuesdays! This is a family place to go. Hang out around Packer Lake and catch some rays on the floatie in the lake, bring a picnic and kick back. From Packer Lake you can see a spectacular side view of the Buttes.
Intermediate hike to the Lookout Tower. The hike is not steep, views in every direction the entire hike. Start at el. 7000' end at el. 9000'. Drive to Packer Saddle and park just past where all the bikers park, 50 feet beyond is a green gate and parking for the part of the Pacific Crest trail that leads to the Buttes. It takes about an hour to get up there. Always bring layers and supplies of water and food since there is nothing out there. You can get cell phone reception from the staircase of the Lookout Tower!!! Spectacular 360 degree views from the top, so bring your camera. Pets welcome (don't forget water for them too).
Another hidden treasure is Sardine Lake. It is the best-unobstructed view of the Buttes, since you are standing in front of Volcano ridge. If you have not been there you have to go down to the Lake and take a picture with the reflection of the Buttes in the Lake, then tell people you were vacationing at the Alpes this weekend! They are open everyday except Wednesdays for dinner. There are two seatings and reservations are preferred. You can rent a boat to go fishing. Sand pond is located next to it with a large camping area.
Drive up and over Gold Lake Hwy and you can stop at a dozen lakes along the road. My favorite for camping and hanging out in a peaceful spot is Goose Lake. Quack Quack, that's how I remember this one. Gold Lake is at the top of Gold Lake Hwy. It is the biggest one in the Lakes Basin. There are big boats on this lake and plenty of family camping. Salmon is a fun semi-large lake for the family. You can go the island for a picnic and jump off the rocks. Bring your dog and he can easily swim across the lake.
In Sierra City, one-quarter mile past the Kentucky Mine Museum as you are heading to Bassett's you can access the Pacific Crest Trail (the trail from Mexico to Canada). The PCT actually crosses right over Hwy 49. The mouth on the right side of the road takes you to Wild Plum Campground and beyond. The mouth on the left side of the road takes you up to the Buttes and beyond.
Easy waterfall hike to Love's Falls. The Pacific Crest Trail PCT crosses Hwy 49 just one quarter mile past Kentucky Mine Museum, before you get to Big Springs Gardens. Park in the pull out on the right side of the road (there is a sign for the PCT) and hike towards Wild Plum approximately 5 minutes is Love's Falls. 100-foot granite walls with dozens of carved out granite bowls feeding this spectacular waterfall! It is an amazing site. Bring a camera and feel free to take a swim or keep on hiking.