Winter Mountain Fun Without Snow!

I know I’m not the only one checking the weather report several times a week these days.  We are all disappointed, to say the least, about the lack of white stuff falling from the sky.  Although we are all worried about what this means for this summer and what it means in winter revenue, one of my customers spoke words of wisdom the other day; “you can’t do anything about it”.   Plain and simple, we can’t.  What we can do is accept the fact that right now, and the forseeable future we have no snow.

What we do have is brisk, sunny days with clear trails to hike or bike or run on.  The way is clear for horseback riding for miles and miles.  With all the pet friendly places to stay in the Quincy area, it’s the perfect weekend get away with the family dog.

We have frozen ponds and lakes that you can ice skate on or ice fish on.  I even heard some brave souls (and much younger than I am!) are ice climbing Fraser Falls which is frozen solid for the first time in fifteen years.

If being out and about isn’t what you’re after, staying in next to a cozy fire in Lakeshore Lodge at Bucks Lake, or sitting at the window seat at the Alley Cat Cafe or Pangea while enjoying a hot drink or lunch might do you some good.

One thing I’m sure of; winter will come eventually and worrying and fretting about it will not make it come any sooner. Until it gets here let’s enjoy what we have!

The Pacific Crest Trail in Plumas County

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Affordable Winter Vacations or Day Trips

Christmas tree permits went on sale in Plumas County on the first day of November…. who knew?  We usually try to get our tree the day after Thanksgiving, I had no idea people from all over came to our neck of the woods (literally our neck of the woods) to cut trees. 

When the kids were little and we lived in San Jose we always went to the Christmas Tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains to get our tree, then, when we moved to Quincy, we were so excited about actually going out into the forest to get a tree.  Boy can I tell you stories about those adventures!  Then of course there was the year we opened the cafe three days before Christmas…. that was the year my kids will have to go counseling for; we were a little busy that year and so on Christmas Eve we went out into the front yard and chopped one down.  Although not every year can be described as a “Norman Rockwell” Christmas experience, we have great memories of cutting our tree down and strapping it to the car.

One of my best Christmas memories growing up is the year my family decided to pack all our Christmas presents up and rent a cabin at Northstar for Christmas.  We cut a tree on the way and took it up with us.  On Christmas day we skied the whole day and opened presents that night.  With the high price of ski lift tickets and cabins in Tahoe, who could do that anymore and afford Christmas presents on top of it?  But, here in Plumas County there is an abundance of affordable winter activities ranging anywhere from sledding to cross country skiing, there’s even longboard and sled dog racing or ice skating on a frozen pond.  Check out the Plumas County Visitor’s guide to winter activities.

No lift lines here!

If an old fashioned, small town Christmas experience is what you are looking for, plan a trip to Quincy the first weekend in December.  The annual “Sparkle” is held the first Friday.  All the stores on Main Street stay open late, many serving holiday goodies, then it seems the whole town lines the street to watch the light parade and then Christmas Carols are sung on the steps to the Courthouse followed by the tree lighting.

Christmas Tree Lighting

Christmas tree permits are ten bucks, a peppermint hot chocolate for the drive and lunch at the Alley Cat Cafe in Quincy, which is all decked out for the Holidays, and you have a full day’s fun at a reasonable price.  If you’re looking for a weekend retreat from the big city, bring snow shoes and hike the endless trails for free; with no lift lines.  Stay at Ada’s Place or the Courtyard Suites for an in town experience or a cabin at Bucks Lake if you’re feeling more adventurous.

Plumas County Courthouse in the snow

As I write this, I’m watching the first flakes of snow fall, soon the lawn at the Courthouse will be white and people will either cuddle up to a nice fire or go out into it to enjoy the crisp air. 

I’m not saying life in the mountains is perfect….. but it sure is close.

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Awsome Autumn in Quincy, Ca.

Jackson Street, Quincy, CA.

Quincy in Autumn …

Written by Emily Webb of Emily’s Garden, Main Street in Quincy, CA.

 One of things I like most about being in Quincy, is the dramatic change of the seasons…with Autumn being one of my favorites. It starts out slowly around the beginning of October.  The days are warm, but the evenings are cool and soon the first smells of smoke start rising from nearby chimneys. As most people in the area heat their homes with wood, Autumn finds many of us chopping and stacking our firewood to stay warm for the cold winter months ahead. With wild apple trees and blackberries abounding, canning things like apple butter and blackberry jam is a fall hobby for many of the folks here too.

Just the beginning of color

Starting about the 2nd week in October, the leaves start to put on their beautiful Fall display. Deep rust and burgundy are the first to show their colors along the creek banks and then slowly gold and crimson are flourishing up the mountainsides from the big leaf maples and dogwoods. By the end of October the oaks are the colors of pumpkins, making the whole experience a treat for the eyes to see. I always make sure to take a trip up the the higher elevations to see the golden leaves of the aspen trees fluttering light gold coins in the wind.

"Cool Cat" at Alley Cat Cafe

Main St. is always a pleasure to stroll, as the downtown merchants have a bit of Autumn to share: from spicy lattes, pumpkin pies and carmel apples, to nature crafts, fall arrangements and beautiful artwork. This year the merchants have added scarecrows to their store fronts making it a fun walk for the young and young at heart.  If you happen to be in town on Halloween, bring your costume and join us for ‘Safe Trick-Or-Treating’ on Main Street.

"Awsome Autumn" at Emily's Garden

So whether it ʼs driving in a car, riding a bike or walking with camera in hand, Quincy is the place to bring you family this Autumn.

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Free Things To Do In and Around Quincy, CA.

The simple pleasures of life are often times the most affordable.  That is certainly the case in and around Quincy.  Here is just a sample of free and almost free activities to enjoy while you are here on your affordable family vacation:

Bucks Lake Wilderness

Explore Bucks Lake Wilderness

Discover the grinding holes at Indian Rock at Bucks Lake,

Hike or snowshoe the Pacific Crest Trail starting at Bucks Lake Summit on Bucks Lake Road.

Jump off the rocks into various creeks and rivers in the area.

Witness nature’s spectacular change of color on a fall foliage tour.  (Sept -Nov. Brochure available at the Plumas Visitor’s Bureau)

Enjoy the splendor of spring wild flowers along quiet rural roadways (May – June)

Lupin and Poppy

Don your binoculars for birdwatching galore; Bald Eagle, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Canadian Geese, hawks, nearly 300 bird species!




Fill a bucket with wild blackberries picked along the roadsides around town and down the Feather River Canyon.

Hook a big one during free fishing days in June and September.

Learn from experts during free interpretive tours of Plumas National Forest.

Visit the Seven Wonders of the Railroad World.

Take in the view at Forest Service Lookouts…wear your hiking boots! (Forest maps are available at the Plumas County Visitors Bureau)

Scour the ground for cool rocks, crystals and fossils at Bucks Lake.

Collect big sugar pine cones for holiday decorations

Find at least 10 giant sequoias that are planted in and around Quincy.

Camp for free at self-service sites in the forest and along creeks.

Hike endless trails and forest service roads through the forest.

Photograph old barns on a tour through Sierra, American or Indian Valleys.  Many have Barn Quilts on them.

Bicycle from Oroville to Quincy on the new road over Bucks Summit. ( Part of the Quadzilla Race.)

Surround yourself with history at the Plumas County Museum.

Look up your ancestors in the genealogy room at the Plumas County Museum.

Trace the route of early explorers on the Historic Beckwourth Trail

Visit the old cemeteries around Quincy… go at night if you dare!

Take the 17 block self guided Heritage Walk and see some of the town’s original buildings.  The tour starts at the Plumas County Museum and a brochure is available.

Visit the four-story County Courthouse and walk up the solid marble staircase.

Enjoy the art and company of local artists at Monthly Art Walks  in downtown Quincy.  For more information contact Plumas County Arts Commission.

View various Galleries and attend Art Openings in downtown Quincy.

Skateboard at the skateboard park near the Plumas County Fair Grounds.

Build a snowman or a snow angel, have a snowball fight.

Slide down a snowy hillside on a sled or toboggan.  There are places along Bucks Lake Road, Bucks Lake Summit and along the Cascade Trail.

Teach the little ones to fish at children’s fishing derbies.

Experience the good old days at the Plumas County Fair in August (Free Admission Day)

Walk with little ghosts and goblins at Safe Trick-or-treating in downtown.

Peruse the produce at the Farmer’s market on Thursday evening during the summer.  Enjoy the live music and eat dinner on the grass.

Cheer on the players at FRC’s baseball, softball, basketball, football and soccer games.  Watch the rodeo team practice.

Check out the vintage cars at the Old Fashioned Picnic in Quincy during June.

Get there early and stake out your place along Main Street for the Fair Parade in August.

During your leaf peeping tours in fall stay for the Mountain Harvest Festival, in October.

Get your pink boas and sparkling tiaras out and come downtown in late September for Girls Night Out.  Local merchants have fun activities, live music…. and you might even get a peek at a “Chippendale” at the Alley Cat Cafe

Light paradeKick off the Holiday Season downtown the first Friday of December, watch the tree lighting at the courthouse and visit local merchants open houses, wave to the driver’s in the light parade and take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the courthouse lawn.

Sing holiday carols with your friends and family during the Community Sing at the Courthouse.

Day Trips from Quincy: 

The following are located within 45 minutes drive from Quincy. 

Bike along the shore at Lake Almanor

Explore mountain lakes & miles of trail in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Cool off at Indian Falls, a short hike off Hwy 89 and 20 minutes from Quincy.

Count up to 100 springtime waterfalls in the Feather River Canyon, watch for a beautiful array of wild flowers.

Investigate the remains of old gold rush towns near La Porte.

Travel the Ancient Trail of the Mountain Maidu, a self guided driving tour highlighting Indian legends.

Pan for gold, inspect bugs and more during Junior Ranger Programs at Plumas Eureka State Park.

Take the dog for a short, easy hike to Frazier Falls.

Take a picnic and enjoy the outdoor summer concerts in Portola.

Bundle up and watch the Historic Longboard Revival Series ski races in Johnsville. (Jan, Feb. and March)

Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and watch the sled dog races in Chester & Eastern Plumas. (Jan. and Feb.)

Relive the late 1800’s during Living History Days at Plumas Eureka State Park.  (June-August)

Learn about the history of the Railway at the Railroad Days in Portola in late August.

Press apples to make fresh juice in late October at the Dawn Institute’s Apple Fest in Indian Valley.

Parts of this article were taken from the brochure available at the Plumas County Visitor’s Bureau: “100 Free Things To Do in Plumas County”. Please contact the Visitor’s Bureau for more information on these and other activites to enjoy in our beautiful area.

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Plumas County Joins the Barn Quilt Craze

Until just recently I had no idea what a Barn Quilt was.  Apparently, it’s quite a movement that seems to be sweeping across the United States.

A Barn Quilt is a vibrant quilt pattern that is painted on a large wooden square and mounted to barns.  Plumas County is joining counties all over the U.S. in putting up barn quilts, not only on barns, but other buildings as well.  They seem to be popping up everywhere.

Barn quilts started about 300 years ago when immigrants from the Rhine region of Germany came to the United States.  Many settled in Pennsylvania. Today, beautiful quilt patterns are seen on the Pennsylvania Dutch barns.  Prior to the 1830’s, most barns were not painted due to the high cost of paint. Barn decorating peaked, with the lower costs of paint, in the early 20th century. Many folk designs, including quilt squares began showing up.

Barn Quilt in Quincy, CA.The Pineapple is the symbol for Hospitality, perfect for Ada's Place, the essence of Mountain Hospitality

Ada's Place Cabin

Today barn quilts are becoming popular once again.  “Quilt Trails” are being developed in many states. After a number of barn quilts have been displayed in an area, a map can be developed that can be used as self-guided tours for visitors to the area.  Plumas County is working on one now, it will be ready to publish soon.

Here in Plumas County, the movement is catching on quickly.  Carolyn Kenney is the featured quilter at the Quincy Crazy Quilters “Crazy About Quilts” show set for May 21 – 22 at the fairgrounds in Quincy, Ca. The show is continued in downtown Quincy, in merchant’s windows.  What’s more, she’s the original force behind the barn quilt movement spreading across Plumas and Sierra counties.

Emily's Garden Main Street, Quincy, CA.


Quilt in Eagle's Nest Window on Main Street

Carolyn attended a quilting instructor certification class taught by Eleanor Burns, a well-known quilter, teacher and author. Burns had recently published “Quilt Blocks on American Barns,” which features the barn quilt movement in the Midwest.

Similar to Pennsylvania hex signs, the tours, called trails, are enormously popular, drawing visitors to look for blocks on old barns over distances up to 90 miles.

The idea captured Carolyn’s imagination and she hopes it will do the same for Plumas County tourism.

Feather River 4-H took on the project, painting a number of large blocks for historical barns in the Quincy area.  On Tuesday, May 19th there will be a Barn Quilt Painting Party at the Heart K Ranch in Genesee.

The grant that made this project possible is from the University of California Cooperative Extension. Donors include: Plumas Bank, Quincy Crazy Quilters, Quincy Chamber of Commerce and Rotary International of Quincy

Partners: The Finishing Touch, Mountain Building Supply and Sierra Pacific Industries, ICI Paint, Quincy Volunteer Fire Department, Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds, Plumas County Visitors Bureau, Plumas Arts

The Finishing Touch has kits which are complete with pattern choices and instructions.

There will be another Quilting event in September 2011.  A County wide tour which will include many more Barn Quilts. Watch for a follow-up article about that.  For more information contact Plumas County Arts Commission in Quincy, CA.  Or the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Quilt in Eagle's Nest Window on Main Street


My Sister's Closet on Main Street

Portions of this blog have been taken from an article in Feather Publishing written by Ramona Hill and reposted with her permission.

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