Upper Bidwell Park


Northern Sacramento Valley, California

Start Exploring
Upper Bidwell Park


  • A welcome and smooth section of the Guardian Trail.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • Valley Oak in the spring.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • Resting on the edge of Big Chico Creek Canyon.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • A multi-use trail in Upper Park.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • View of Horseshoe Lake from Monkey Face.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • The Live Oak Trail.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • The Tuscan formation showing through the green grass.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • The Sacramento Valley from the North Rim.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • Alligator Hole along Big Chico Creek.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • The Yahi Trail offers shade to hikers.- Upper Bidwell Park
  • Big Chico Creek near Bear Hole.- Upper Bidwell Park
Overview + Weather
Many trail options. Swimming holes. Big canyon views.
Parking sometimes crowded. Hot in the summer.
Northern Sacramento Valley, CA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


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.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
8 Members
Who's Done It
23 Members
Submission by
39 Adventures Explored
22 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info