Description - This U.S. Forest Service Scenic Byway and State Scenic Highway winds through the Yuba River Canyon. It goes through several picturesque gold rush towns and climbs up to Yuba Summit.
Copyright: - California Scenic Highway Program
Before California's 1849 gold rush much of the area was home to Nisenan Native Americans
- Route 49--Part of Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway, transects a kaleidoscope of California's geology and its native flora through ancient to recent history. The scenic route accords travelers a complete sensory experience ranging from expansive mountain vistas to sounds of the Yuba River rushing alongside the highway much of the way.
Vegetation in the lower elevation, western portions of the drive is characteristically chaparral with manzanita, buckbrush and chamise dominating roadside environs. As elevation increases, vegetation merges into foothill woodland with dense oak forests, madrone and dogwood, then climbs to mountain forestland and an array of coniferous species.
Before California's 1849 gold rush much of the area was home to Nisenan Native Americans. The Nisenan harvested acorns and fished waters abundant with trout, salmon and other species. The Yuba is still favored by recreational anglers with excellent river access from Highway 49 and many day use and camping areas.
The region was mined extensively for gold from 1849 to 1941. Riverbeds were reputedly lined with the precious metal but fortunes were produced for only a lucky few. Recreational miners can be found today panning, sleucing and dredging gold from the banks and bottoms of the region's rivers.
Downieville, roughly midpoint along the route at the confluence of the Yuba and Downie rivers, is the Sierra County seat and a popular tourism destination with ample overnight accommodations and restaurants. Sierra City, about 12 miles east of Downieville, is a restored mining camp-cum-recreation and tourism village featuring a quiet lifestyle, excellent scenery and hospitable residents.
The east end of the scenic drive terminates at the Yuba Summit, (elev. 6,701') which overlooks rich agricultural valleys to the east. The westbound drive from Yuba Summit features equally dramatic mountain panoramas of rugged peaks, meandering-to-cascading river waters, and a well-maintained roadway that make Sierra 49 one of California's outstanding scenic highways.
Recreation - The Route 49--Part of Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway is known for it's historical, natural, recreational and scenic attractions.
Climate - The High Sierra generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, snowy and wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered," ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
This byway is located in the northern High Sierra and Gold Country Regions of northern California. From Nevada City, take Route 49 to the west and follow it as it turns to the north. The byway begins at the Yuba County line and follows Route 49 to Yuba Summit.
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