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Butte County Resource Conservation District
Tackle Dome Trail

Butte County's Toughest Hike

Unincorporated Outdoor Adventurer

[Update October 2020: The portions of the Plumas National Forest affected by North Complex Fire, in which Dome Trail is located, ARE CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 2023 to hiking, hunting, camping, and fishing through 2021 due to ongoing recovery efforts]

Looking for challenging hiking in Northern California? Head to Dome Trail in Butte County.

Butte County has big granite, and the Plumas National Forest maintains two trails that show off how Butte County rocks. Big Bald Rock, a rock-hopping playground, is easily accessible from a short trail near the town of Berry Creek. Just a short distance away is Bald Rock Dome which hovers over the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Feather River. The Dome Trail plunges nearly 1,600 feet in a little over two miles to reach the Middle Fork just underneath Bald Rock Dome, one of the northernmost granite domes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the dome that is easily visible to the northeast from the Feather Falls Trail.

The Dome Trail starts above Bald Rock Canyon and quickly shows the best view of Bald Rock Dome. After a few hundred feet of hiking through a burn-recovery area, a steady progression of switchbacks will begin through pockets of trees and won’t let up until you’re well within the canyon. This section of trail will feature an assortment of wildflowers during the spring and splashes of fall color in the autumn. The trail is mostly etched in stone during the last quarter-mile with one section squeezing you through a narrow rock crevice. The final approach to the river is made along a steep staircase.

Key Info

Trail Difficulty: Difficult

Trail Length & Type: 4 miles, out-and-back

Best Used: Accessible year-round

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Once you reach the Middle Fork of the Feather River, you’ll be enjoying one of eight original stretches of river in the United States protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Visitors during warmer weather can enjoy swimming in the many natural swimming holes. Adventurers looking for an added challenge and payoff can wade and boulder upstream for about 2000 feet to find Curtain Falls, a 30 foot wide waterfall draped across a slab of granite which falls into a large swimming hole.

Although only four miles long round-trip, five if you include Curtain Falls, this adventure is for experienced hikers. The trip back up to the trailhead is strenuous and can be exhausting in hot weather. Be sure to bring plenty of water for the trip back uphill. The Middle Fork of the Feather River will likely be too strong for swimming in the winter, spring, and sometimes in early summer.

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Man, it has been a rough few months, hasn’t it?! What is normally our solace and refuge in being in nature has been much more inaccessible. In the last few months, every time we tried to get some steam off by going on a hike, trails were crowded with people. After a while, there was such an influx of people on trails that every local, state, and federal agency closed access to our local trails (rightfully so, I’m not getting political here). I got to a point where I started calling ranger stations and asked for “something”, “anything,” to get us in nature on a less beaten path. Their response was all the same: “all our maintained trails are closed due to the influx of people coming from urban areas, please stay home.” We did have the chance to get out every now and then in the foothills, and it has been certainly better than nothing. Fortunately, thanks to a @explorebuttecountyca post we finally found an epic adventure that was so far off the beaten path that we didn’t see a soul. Not one. But that’s because this was a difficult trail that was extremely difficult to find. You’re driving for miles on small forest service dirt roads. In fact, the roads were so rough that our SUV got its first flat tire! Yeah, doing that in 98 degrees sucked. But, it was so worth it. The bald rock #DomeTrail north east of Oroville is Butte County has big displays of granite. Bald Rock Dome hovers over the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Feather River. The Dome Trail plunges nearly 1,600 feet in a little over two miles to reach the Middle Fork just underneath Bald Rock Dome, one of the northernmost granite domes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At the bottom we were able to find some tranquil pools to swim in, despite high water flows. That was fabulous! #ExploreButteCA #Explorebuttecountyca #BucketlistHike!! #AdventureIsOutThere #FamilyAdventures #familyhikes

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(Note - Google Maps may mislead you near the trailhead!)

You can reach the city of Oroville by traveling south on Highway 99 from Chico. Follow the signs to Highway 149, then to Highway 70. If traveling from the south, take Highway 70 north from Sacramento or Marysville. In Oroville, take Exit 46 and head east on Highway 162 (Oro-Dam Boulevard) for 1.7 miles. Follow Highway 162 as it turns right onto Olive Highway. It will then turn into Oro-Quincy Highway and continue across the New Bidwell Bar bridge to the town of Berry Creek. After about 19 miles from Highway 70, turn left onto Bald Rock Road.

Travel on Bald Rock Road for 8.5 miles and turn left onto Forest Road 21N35Y (this does not show up on Google Maps - the road that does show up to the south is private). Look for the sign that says “Dome Trail 3.” As the sign suggests, continue for three miles along this slow-going dirt road until the trailhead.

Tackle Dome Trail
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