The 60-mile canyon portion of this 130-mile scenic byway route travels east-west across Butte and Plumas Counties on State Highway 70, following the north fork of the Feather River.
Few California highways feature such natural beauty and diversity in terrain, landscape, wildlife and elevation as the Canyon Route. Cascading waterfalls and wildflowers in the spring and brilliant colors in the fall highlight the canyon’s natural beauty. The area also showcases the marvels of power plant, railroad and highway engineering between the steep, rugged canyon walls that drop down to the North Fork of the Feather River. The historic Pulga and Tobin bridges -- highway and railroad bridges that cross over each other --and three tunnels blasted through granite are among the most frequently photographed sites. Seven hydroelectric powerhouses make up the “Stairway of Power” along the river with excellent views of the process in action.
Numerous hiking trails (including the Pacific Crest Trail) are accessed in the canyon, while the river provides opportunities for gold panning, camping and springtime rafting and kayaking. There also are many fishing holes along the creeks that intersect the river.
Recreational flow releases on the North Fork Feather River increase the opportunities for whitewater enthusiasts, on select weekends from June to October. The small communities of Storrie, Tobin, Belden, Caribou, Twain and Paxton offer lodging, camping, convenience stores and places to eat.
If you like trains, historic tracks (built in 1906) parallel the highway through the canyon. You may find yourself nose to nose with the engine and if you are lucky they will give you a blast of the horn. These tracks carry trains from east to west (Utah to the coast and Oregon).
The Feather River Scenic Byway route can be taken in either direction. From the west, it starts eight miles north of Oroville on Highway 70, winds through the magnificent Feather River Canyon, following the middle fork of the Feather River, connects with Highway 89 on through Quincy to Blairsden/Graeagle, resumes as Highway 70 through Portola, drops down onto the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and cuts through the fantastic expanse of the Sierra Valley, the western edge of the Great Basin.