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The Middle Mountain Education Program has developed curriculum-based hikes to enhance classroom lessons in geology, ecology, and biology, as well as local history. The hikes are designed to enable students to see relationships between wildlife and plant life, to encounter geological forces that have shaped our local landscape, and to experience how the local indigenous Nisenan-Maidu, the early explorers and, finally, the settlers and ranchers used the land.

Discovery treks and structured learning activities are geared to provoke observational skills, as well as reflective reactions to modern society’s relationship with the environment. The proximity and accessibility of the natural Sutter Buttes’ landscape makes an incomparable classroom without walls where educational experiences become lifetime memories.



The Sutter Buttes are a mixture of oak woodland, grassy meadow, and volcanic rock formations. Students will look for evidence of how animals and plants have developed specific adaptations that help them move, get food, or be protected from enemies. The Buttes are also a rich laboratory for experiencing the Nisenan-Maidu presence in the area. Students will investigate how they lived in the area including the foods they ate. There are several pounding rock areas along the trails and students are encouraged to participate in pounding acorns.



Students will identify living and non-living aspects of the Sutter Buttes ecosystem. As the students walk through the landscape, they are able to identify more subtle adaptations of both plants and animals and the importance of their structure to their survival. Enriching geology concepts, students identify igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks they find along the trail. They will observe changes in the landscape resulting from volcanic activity and erosion.


9:00 am        Meet guides at the Entrance to the Buttes

9:35 am        Begin orientation

9:45 am        Begin nature hike

11:30* am    Lunch break (20-30 minutes)

1:15 pm        Back at trailhead

2:00* pm      Exit the Sutter Buttes

*Approximate times


The Trails

Depending on the total number of students, up to three different trails will be used. All trails offer similar learning opportunities.

Since there will be little “groomed trail” walking, participants should be prepared for irregular terrain, possibly wet conditions, tall grass in the late fall, and small creek crossings. Students and adults need to wear sturdy lace up shoes and be appropriately dressed for any hiking conditions according to the current weather forecast. Total distance could be up to 3 miles on uneven ground, depending on the trail and duration.

All trails incorporate a …

Silent walk…

Lunch break on the trail…

And a climb to look out over the valley.

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the Education Program.

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School hikes run from late October through the end of March.

The cost per school is $300 for the first class and $100 for each additional class.

This fee includes teachers and required chaperones.

The hikes require an adult ratio of 1 adult for 6 students.


 All participants must stay with the group and not leave before the completion of the hike activity.

Teacher/Parent Information About Hikes

  1. MMIH Liability Release Forms must be signed by school adults ahead of time and collected by the MMIH Guide prior to entering the Buttes private property.

  2. Parent/chaperone ratio of 1 chaperone for every 6 youngsters. Additional $10 fee for any extra field trip parent or chaperone attendees, with a maximum of 2 extra per trail.

  3. Each child should carry their own backpack with sack lunch and water (no sweet drinks or candy).

  4. Students and chaperones are to wear appropriate clothing and shoes for the weather and terrain. Please encourage students to wear hats.

  5. Disciplining is the responsibility of the teacher and chaperones. Our Guides do not monitor student behavior.

  6. Artifacts, bones, and other finds are to be left on the trail for everyone to discover and not removed from the property.

  7. Vehicles are to be kept to a minimum. Car-pooling is required.

  8. All participants must stay with the group and no one may leave before the termination of the hike activity.

Let us know which tools you'd like to request.

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Available on Request

  • Flyer for Parents

  • Hike Activities

  • All Around Us—See, Feel, Hear, Smell

  • Changes, Adaptations, and Relationships

  • Hike Observations

  • Post-Hike Activities


"This was the best day of my life. It was better than a day in Disneyland!"
3rd grader from Lincoln School Nov 2014


"This was better than our trip to 6 Flags last year."
3rd grader from Lincoln School Nov 2014


Quotes taken directly from the 3rd grade students at Park & King last year 2013/14 season


"Thank you for letting us 'smash acorns.'"


"Thank you for your knowledge. It made us feel smarter and happy. It was the best day ever!"


"We learned that the Sutter Buttes are an extinct-TED volcano."


"We learned that “Histum Yani” means “Middle Mountain” and that is what the Maidu called our Sutter Buttes."


"Thank you for the tour. I learned many facts about lichen. There are different colors of green, light green, and yellow. Some of them are fury and soft. I enjoyed learning about lichen."


"We learned about the Maidu and how they ate acorns. We found animal skulls and bones. We learned that the Maidu ate deer, but first they had to catch it!"


"We sat down in a circle after a silent walk and quietly passed around all kinds of things. The rabbit furs were so soft. We got to touch a deer antler, cool Maidu things, a handmade Indian basket, deer toenail rattles, and lots of other cool stuff."


"It was so fun! I learned about Ringtails. They look like raccoons and only come out at night."


"My favorite part of the hike was walking up the mountain. I felt like I was going to fall."


"Thank you for showing some interesting rocks. I learned that rocks come from the volcano. The volcano exploded and all the rocks flew out. Some rocks were small, medium, and large. On the different rocks were moss and lichen."


"It was fun learning about Sapsuckers. My favorite part was when you told us that the sapsuckers long tongue wrapped around their brains to protect it."


"It was fun climbing up the mountain and looking at the mountains. The mountains are super big. They looked like the biggest mountains in the world!"


"Thank you for showing us what the Indian used. I learned that boys trapped little animals. It was fun learning that the Indian boys used a snare on the ground and then hide. When the animal got close to the rope the boy pulled the rope to catch the animal."


"My favorite part was when we sat by a tree and the guide sang a Maidu song in the Maidu language. I felt excited to hear it. While she was singing my friend was rattling the deer toenail rattle."

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