The Sutter Buttes aren't typical flat-topped buttes
, but instead are lava domes. They are what old-timers would have called sugarloaf mountains, but butte is the correct term for these steep-sided hills. The locals today sometimes call Sutter Buttes "the world's smallest mountain range." The Buttes sit in mysterious isolation in the middle of the flat Sacramento Valley, a magnet for the native peoples but a puzzle to generations of geologists (see the Buttes from space
). Access to this privately owned area is largely controlled by the Middle Mountain Foundation
, under whose auspices I visited the Buttes in April 2007 (some photos are from a drive-by in September 2009). The Yuba Historical Society also sponsors walks in parts of the Buttes.