Honey Run, don’t walk
Standing inside the Honey Run Covered Bridge, listening to the water rush by, one can almost hear the shouts of ox-cart drivers as they steer their creaking wagons over Butte Creek. A hundred years ago, it would have been a common sound, as the bridge was the only way for the estimated 3,500 hill dwellers to cross the creek. Nowadays fewer people live in the hills, and the more common sounds are of kids splashing in the creek below, families picnicking nearby and the clomp-clank of folks pitching horseshoes.Built in 1894 and rebuilt in 1896, the Honey Run Covered Bridge is one of a small and still-dwindling number of covered bridges in the United States. Its rough timbers have seen a century of local history pass by, and sitting as it does in one of the most beautiful spots in Butte County, the simple-yet-grand bridge is the pride of Butte Creek Canyon.
“If I walk on the bridge when nobody’s there I just get such a wonderful feeling,” said Gail Galia, president of the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association, a small group of volunteers who have taken care of the bridge ever since an out-of-control panel truck almost destroyed it in 1964. “There’s so much history in the canyon.”
The bridge and its surrounding picnic area are just a few miles from Chico, making it one of the best day-trip destinations around. In the dog days of summer, locals beat the heat by lounging and swimming in the creek, sheltered by the merciful shade of the bridge. But just walking across the bridge is an experience in itself. Vertical lines of blue sky peek through the wood-slatted walls, creating solemn and peaceful designs that soothe the mind and excite the imagination.
Vehicles are no longer allowed on the bridge, so one of its present uses is as an unofficial community hall. The most popular event held there is the annual pancake breakfast, which brings out hundreds of hungry history hounds, who feast on flapjacks cooked right outside on Captain Bob’s mobile pancake wagon.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” Galia said of the breakfast. “Everybody meets people they haven’t seen in a long time. They talk and eat. It’s just so nice to sit by the creek and have Sunday morning coffee.”
Other events include a spring bicycle ride and a holiday bazaar and bake sale, which will be held this year on Dec. 13. To get to the bridge, drive up Skyway toward Paradise and make a left on Honey Run Road. The bridge is about four miles up the road on the right-hand side. A day-use permit and parking pass is $3, which goes toward maintaining the site. For information about events or to volunteer for the Honey Run Bridge Association, call 891-1938.