Mary West: Exploring Upper Bidwell Park
Upper Bidwell Park near Chico is a great escape. I checked it out between storms recently and had to share the view with you. Upper Bidwell Park is located just outside the city of Chico. From downtown you can look off into the distance and see the green bluffs that beg you to leave the bustle of town and find a trail.
The 2,500-acre park is divided by Manzanita Avenue into upper, middle and lower Bidwell Parks. Middle Bidwell Park is flat, level and covered in trees. The lower park features picnic tables, a pool and a children’s playground.
Middle Bidwell Park is not a get-away-from-it-all wilderness, but it is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the view if you find yourself in the area. The off-leash dog park at the entrance is a large wide-open grassy area to throw the frisbee or ball and let Fido run free.
Further along is Horseshoe Lake. From here you can see the trails cut like veins into the hillside, inviting you to see the view from the top. The volcanic rock makes for a firm surface. The interesting rock formations provide nooks and crannies for a variety of wildflowers and grasses.
As you wander the switchbacks and make your way to the top, you get a nice view of the lake, the meadows and the city below. These are multi-use trails. Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians enjoy the view too.
I was able to hike a couple miles, in and around the area, with the pond always in view, before the next storm hit.
Upper Bidwell Park offers steeper and longer trails. Several trails intersect, making longer treks possible.
For me, Bidwell Park was all about the view. From the variety of wildflowers, the rock formations to the expanse of sky and happy dogs wagging their tails free, I found myself grateful to enjoy this park on a lovely spring day.
To get there follow CA-99 N to 32 east/Deer Creek Hwy. Left on Bruce Rd. Bruce Rd turns into Manzanita Ave. At the 3rd round-about take the first exit to Wildwood Ave to Upper Park Road.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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