On the Trail in the Sierra Valley

By Emily Compton

Young man walking a cow on a leadPhoto provided by the Sierra Arts Council

The Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail is an event that offers something for everyone. Always in late September, attendees often have a perfect fall day to enjoy the history, culture and bounty of the Sierra Valley.

Guests of the event travel through the Sierra Valley at their own pace where they visit Sierra Valley Barn Quilts, working ranches and other historical buildings throughout the valley. There will be local vendors and exhibitors at each site for participants to buy and purchase local goods.

The Trail offers participants an opportunity to visit 100-plus-year-old privately-owned farms and ranches, many of which are still in operation today. The free event is being hosted by the Sierra Arts Council this year with more than a dozen sites to visit throughout the valley, and to cap off the event, there is a large barbecue dinner and auction at the Sierra Valley Grange Hall.

It truly is an event for the whole family. There will be live music throughout the trail and children’s activities, artist demonstrations, educational presentations and a prize drawing. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour some of the sites and learn about the history and current day-to-day operations of the ranches.

The Sierra Valley boasts a long history, expanding approximately 120,000 acres and sits at around 5,000 feet. Approximately the size of Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Valley about 10,000 years ago was an alpine lake which left a floor of sediment that is now the valley floor.

The Sierra Valley has an extensive ecosystem of grassland and sagebrush with freshwater marshes and the headwaters of the Feather River. It is a biodiversity hotspot, with more than 200 different bird species visiting the area throughout the course of a year.

Many of the historic farms and ranches were at one time family-run dairies that supplied milk, cream and butter to miners in Virginia City. Today, many of these ranches are still family-owned and -operated, having been in some families for many generations.

The Art & Ag Trail Kickoff Event will be Friday, September 3 at the Lost Marbles Ranch, featuring Sourdough Slim in concert.

For more information, visit the Sierra Valley Art and Ag Trail website or call (530) 289-9822.