The Sierra Valley, located approximately 25 miles northwest of Truckee on Hwy 89, is part of Sierra County, one of the smallest counties in the state. At an elevation of approximately 5,000’, the huge valley is the largest alpine valley in the Sierra Nevada range. Tucked at the base of the eastern slope of the Sierras, the Sierra Valley communities include Sierraville, Sattley, Calpine and Loyalton.
Known as the valley ranch communities, in the 1850s these communities provided dairy products, hay, and cattle for Truckee and the western Sierra County and Comstock Mines and proved to be one of the finest agricultural regions of California during that time. The lumber industry was also part of the agricultural economy. Sierra Valley timber supplied the Comstock mines, Central Pacific Railroad, and California fruit industry till the early 1900s when there was a decline in the timber demands with the closing of mines in California.
In present day times, much of the population has been devoted to cattle-raising and farming. The mountain valley reflects life as it used to be in much of the west. Amidst century-old barns built by early ranchers, herds of cattle graze on 120,000 acres of valley floor consisting of a grassland and sagebrush ecosystem and extensive freshwater marshes. These marshes are also part of a major flyway for migrating birds and therefore provide excellent bird-watching locations.
Once a thriving mill town, Calpine was built as a company-owned sawmill town for the Davies- Johnson Lumber Company and its 500 workers. Surrounded by National Forestry Land, now it is a quaint town of less than 350 people. The popular “Lodge” restaurant is soon to be reopening under new management and there is a post office. Numerous golf courses – Whitehawk, Graeagle Meadows, Plumas Pines, and Feather River Resort – are a short drive away in the charming community of Graeagle. The majority of homes in the community are summer cabins though several full time residents live in this serene community for its beauty, peace and quiet.
Originally known as Smith’s Neck, Loyalton was renamed by mountaineers who were loyal Union men. The population is somewhere around 900 with many of the population being ranchers, loggers, former loggers, or suburbanites escaping from the growing Reno-Tahoe area. Because Loyalton is Sierra County's most populous municipality and it’s only incorporated city, it offers several of the county’s services, an elementary, middle and high school and several businesses including a mill.
This a very small community of less than 50. There is no commercial development. On the edge of the valley, against the hills, Sattley offers remnants of both early ranching and logging with its old farmhouses, barns and stunning view of the valley.
Located at the intersection of Hwys 89 and Hwy 49, Sierraville is the portal to the Sierra Valley from Truckee. Sierraville has one elementary school, a post office, a couple of restaurants and a few businesses including the historic Globe Hotel which serves as lodging for the Sierra Hot Springs Resort and Retreat, just 1 mile away. The majority of the community is ranchers; however, only 30 minutes from Truckee, some full time residents choose to make the scenic commute to work each day.