Middle Mountain Education ProgramThe 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.


Descriptions of Grade-Level Hikes


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.