Historic Highway 49 in the north starts in the Sierra County town of Vinton and winds south through a mountainous region where the rivers still run free. Even during the summer high season, this county of fewer than 4,000 souls is off the beaten track for most visitors. In fall, it can feel like your own private realm. Set up basecamp in Downieville, a Gold-Rush town on the Yuba River, and prepare to be charmed.
At Sierra Streamside Cabins, you’ll sleep in a one- to five-bedroom cabin to the sound of the rushing river just outside your door. A mile from the center of town, the Lure Resort offers a variety of pet-friendly accommodations, from fully furnished vacation homes to tent cabins, all strung out alongside a different stretch of the same stream. They’re but two of the rustic and not-so-rustic cabin resorts that have drawn families to the region for a century.
Fishing is the primary draw for many, but if you’re not into casting a line or have already caught your limit, you and your four-legged companions might well head up to the Sierra Buttes for some awesome hiking.
The marquee trek here is the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail, a steep five-miler up from Packer Lake (Packer Lake Lodge on the lakeshore is another dog-friendly lodging choice). Elevation gain to the fire lookout at the top of the crags is a daunting 2,357 vertical feet, but the views from up top compensate for the considerable cardio output. The final 200 railed steps leading to the top of the granite outcrop aren’t dog friendly, but by the time you get there, neither you nor Bella will mind!
Photo Credit: @bernies_best