Sierra Nevada Conservancy Awards SBTS Nearly $800,000 to Fund Sierra Valley Recreation Project Planning

The large-scale planning project is a key component of the Connected Communities Trails Master Plan

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy has awarded funding to Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) to start the planning process for the Sierra Valley Recreation Project, 63 miles of trail proposed to connect Loyalton, Sierraville and the East Zone Connectivity Project, as well as the evaluation of three trailheads.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy logo

Key Project Highlights

  • 63 Miles 
  • 3 Trailheads 
  • Connects Loyalton and Sierraville to East Zone Connectivity Trails


  • 2023–Groundtruthing
  • 2024–Resource Surveys, Specialist Reports
  • 2025–NEPA & CEQA Drafting, Additional Surveys
  • 2026–Shovels in the dirt! 

The Sierra Valley Recreation Project is a key component of the Connected Communities Trails Master Plan, and was funded to the tune of $793,620 by Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Vibrant Recreation & Tourism Grant Program (SNC is an agency of the State of California), with SBTS matching funds. The project will provide a replicable model for the planning, design, and environmental compliance required for the larger Connected Communities Project.

Connected Communities is a visionary effort led in partnership by federal land managers, SBTS, and community partners to connect 15 mountain towns for economic prosperity through outdoor recreation—an $887 billion industry.

Connected Communites Map

“This grant will allow us to take a significant step forward in the environmental planning for the Sierra Valley Recreation Project, which will be an important connection between two rural mountain communities and, eventually, the Truckee area,” said Trinity Stirling, Connected Communities Project Manager for Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. “It will also provide a valuable roadmap for future Connected Communities projects.”

The project area is located in the Tahoe National Forest and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and primarily serves the communities of Loyalton and Sierraville in Sierra County. It aims to improve access to recreational opportunities and provide a link to the East Zone Connectivity Project (70 miles of trail that will eventually link Truckee with Loyalton and Sierraville to the north), Prosser OHV Trail System, Boca Reservoir Trail System, Boca-Loyalton Rails to Trails, Badenaugh Trail, Little Truckee Summit and the town of Truckee.

boca reservoir

View above Boca Reservoir

flagging at Loyalton project

Flagging the trail

The projected three-year environmental review portion of the project is due to start this year and includes groundtruthing—physically walking and flagging the proposed route—conducting resource surveys and specialist reports, and drafting National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents for the 63 miles of proposed trail. Engagement with the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada will be prioritized (and funded!) throughout the environmental review process. The goal is for the project to be shovel-ready in 2026, following a signed decision from the land manager. The trail’s future motorized and non-motorized designation will be determined by land managers through the environmental review process, with the goal of meeting community needs and protecting natural and cultural resources.

The Sierra Valley Recreation Project will provide a replicable model for the planning, design, and environmental compliance required for the larger Connected Communities Project and the proposed Lost Sierra Route, which is the working name for a signature multi-use route proposed as part of the Connected Communities Project. If approved by land managers, the Lost Sierra Route would connect 13 rural mountain towns (as well as Reno and Truckee) through a mix of existing and new trails designed to bring trail users into the towns’ Main Streets, with the overall goal of using outdoor recreation to stabilize and boost the economies of disadvantaged communities in the Lost Sierra.

Mountains above Loyalton

Mountains near Loyalton

This Project also addresses SNC’s goals to create a vibrant recreation economy and impactful regional identity, and aligns with priorities to create new recreation amenities and infrastructure. The project will serve Loyalton, which has been designated by the state as an economically disadvantaged community.

To learn more about the larger Connected Communities Project, go to


Loyalton on the edge of the mountains