Bidwell Park stretches 11 miles from downtown Chico into the Sierra Nevada foothills. At 3,670 acres, it is one of the larger municipal parks in the United States. The park dates back to 1905, when Annie Bidwell, wife of General John Bidwell (and the founder of Chico), gifted their land to the city. The park is split into the urban forest of Lower Park and the more rugged Upper Park. This guide showcases the upper portion of Bidwell Park.
Big Chico Creek Canyon dominates the surrounding landscape of Upper Park. The creek erodes through layers of ancient volcanic mud and lava flows. Most trails in Upper Park follow the general contour of the canyon with the occasional connector trail tying them together. The trails along the north and south rim of the canyon offer great views from up high while the Yahi Trail offers shade and access to Big Chico Creek's swimming holes.
Except for the Yahi Trail, most trails allow equestrians and mountain bikes when conditions are dry. The park is known for the annual Bidwell Bump mountain bike race. The volcanic rocks embedded on the trails truly make most trails a bumpy ride, so bring your full suspension bike.
Due to heavy community involvement at Bidwell Park, there is an abundance of additional attractions. The Chico Community Observatory offers a view of the night sky. Horseshoe Lake is a popular local fishing spot located next to the Chico Rod and Gun Club. There's a golf course located within the canyon and a disc-golf course located on the rim of the canyon atop a lava cap.
Spring brings wildflowers and lushness to Upper Bidwell Park and is generally the best time to experience the scenery. Summer and early autumn are a good time to test out numerous swimming holes along the creek. Due to its low elevation, Upper Bidwell Park offers snow-free outdoor recreation through the winter as well.