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Stories from the valley

Small mountain range stands tall in the Sacramento Valley

Contributed by Jonnalee Henderson

At ten miles in diameter and 2,000 feet tall, their rocky crags and jutted points rise above the paper flat valley around them.  Their beauty captures thousands of photos from visitors and locals alike. They are one of the most beloved parts of our valley, but in all their beauty, is it actually true that the Sutter Buttes are the world’s smallest mountain range?

I decided to investigate a bit to see if there were answers to the question of “what is the smallest mountain range in the world?” Seems that everyone from writers of the New York Times, science journals, the San Francisco Chronicle and Wikipedia all agree that the Sutter Buttes are indeed the smallest mountain range in the world.  Yay!

Last spring I went on a chartered tour of the Sutter Buttes hosted by Middle Mountain Interpretive Hikes.  Surrounded by volcanic rocks, grassy hills, local cattle, oak trees, violets, poppies, lupine, and birds, all of us on the tour enjoyed our day exploring what we normally just see from afar.

Buttes 2While ours was a general hike with the guide providing a little bit of information about everything, guides can focus your learning on the geological aspects of the Buttes, the wildlife and plant life, or the history.  You cannot hike the Buttes on your own, but there are many options for experiencing them.  You can drive the 45-mile loop around them, arrange for a personalized chartered hike or join a themed hike organized by the Foundation. Some examples are their full moon hikes, wildflower study hikes, nature hikes, bird watching hikes or even bat-watching hikes (no thank you!).  A full list of the hikes can be found at

Whether hiking them, driving them, or learning about them by wandering through the Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County, I encourage you to keep your camera close at hand and take time this spring to enjoy this great jewel in our own backyard.