Find out what this place is all about

FOLLOW THE TREES <br>Follow the leaves down Cramer Lane to visit the Genetic Resource Center, where, since 1904, the feds have tested whether plants such as bamboo and kiwifruit will grow here.

Follow the leaves down Cramer Lane to visit the Genetic Resource Center, where, since 1904, the feds have tested whether plants such as bamboo and kiwifruit will grow here.

As a visitor to Chico, you have an advantage. You might think that locals are lucky to have vast Bidwell Park, creeks meandering through town, the Sacramento River and the Sierra Nevada foothills nearby, municipal parks galore and so many freshly painted bike lines. But, with all the variety of outdoor entertainment available year-round to Chico residents, many locals have yet to explore the area completely. As a visitor you are free to leisurely see the sights Chico residents love. Take advantage of any season to get outside and enjoy the wonder of nature.With hot summer days only a memory, the breezy Chico fall is perfect for watching the leaves change, an afternoon picnic at Hooker Oak, exploring the myriad trails in Upper Bidwell Park, bird watching, or a enjoy a round of golf—even disc golf—at one of the local courses.

The Chico environment even remains hospitable despite the chill of winter. Visit the historic Honey Run Covered Bridge in Butte Creek Canyon, or bundle up the kids for a stroll through Lower Bidwell Park and a jaunt in the whimsical Caper Acres playground. Explore the foothills up Highway 32 and the Skyway to see pines, panoramic vistas, and if the time is right, play in the snow. Chico’s cool, fresh air will undoubtedly inspire visitors to get out and see what Chico is all about.

Walking and Hiking Trails

North Park Drive
Three-mile paved road running one-way from east to west the length of Lower Bidwell Park along the north bank of Big Chico Creek. Closed to motor vehicles until 11 a.m. daily. Entrance is off Vallombrosa just west of Manzanita at the eastern end of Lower Park.

South Park Drive
Two-mile paved road running one-way from west to east from Cedar Grove to Manzanita Avenue. Connected to North Park Drive by a series of pedestrian bridges. Closed to motor vehicles until 11 a.m. Main entrance to One-Mile Recreation Area is at corner of East Fourth Street and Cypress.

Lower Bidwell Park trails
Foot paths and bicycle trails also run the length of Lower Bidwell Park through stately oak groves and near the riparian zone of Big Chico Creek. Take South Park Drive or North Park Drive to any turnoff.

North Rim Trail
Skirts north edge of Upper Bidwell Park along Big Chico Creek canyon. Spectacular views, rugged cliffs. Take Wildwood Avenue off Manzanita, then 1.5 miles to the parking lot.

Upper Park Road
Wildwood Avenue turns into a rocky, rutted dirt road two miles into Upper Bidwell Park. It’s usually passable with most vehicles in dry weather. In wet weather, the gate is often closed to prevent vandalism and rutting. Runs five miles to end of Upper Bidwell Park along Big Chico Creek. You can park in one of the many lots along the way. A trail parallels the road about 100 feet to the north and is good for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Upper Bidwell Park
All of Upper Park is open to hiking, from along the creek and up the walls of the canyon to the summit of the hills overlooking the canyon and the Sacramento Valley. Especially pretty in winter and spring. Access by Wildwood Avenue off Manzanita Avenue.

Chico Genetic Resource Center Nature Trail
Tour this half-mile paved loop along Comanche Creek through a national forest tree-growing station. Many varieties of stately trees border a fast-flowing creek. Open weekdays, during the day. To get there, drive to the gate at the end of Cramer Lane. More info: 895-1176.

Sewage Treatment Plant
It might sound like an odd place to visit, but you can walk on the levees behind the Chico Sewage Treatment Plant and find many species of local and migrating waterfowl and other birds and mammals. The trail loops around ponds for about two miles behind the plant. There is even a viewing blind. Take Fifth Street west until it turns into River Road and go another three miles until you see the plant on your left. The gates are open 8 a.m-5 p.m. seven days a week.

Picnic Spots

Lower Bidwell Park
Thirty-six tables with barbecue pedestals scattered along both sides of Big Chico Creek. Access from North or South Park Drive.

One-Mile/Sycamore Pool Area
Tables and barbecue pedestals in oak grove surrounding swimming pool. One section of many tables can accommodate large groups. No reservations needed, but be prepared—it’s a popular place.

Photo by Tom Angel

Cedar Grove
Some three miles east of Lower Bidwell Park entrance on South Park Drive. Reservations needed for large groups. Call 895-4972.

Upper Bidwell Park
Picnic in the hills. No fires or facilities, but you can eat by the creek or on top of the cliffs.

Hooker Oak Recreation Area
Playgrounds, ball fields, grassy swards and picnic tables comprise this spot wherein once grew one of the nation’s largest oak trees, the Hooker Oak, named after an English botanist. The tree succumbed to lightning years ago, but the huge stump is preserved. Corner of Manzanita and Hooker Oak avenues.

Annie’s Glen
A tranquil protrusion of Bidwell Park located just south of Big Chico Creek and west of Mangrove Avenue. No facilities except a picnic table.

Children’s Park
A grassy expanse with a play area, benches and tables bordering Big Chico Creek as it flows past Bidwell Mansion and through the Chico State campus. North end of Broadway, downtown Chico.

Rotary Park
A postage-stamp-sized playground with slides, swings, a basketball court, barbecue pedestals and picnic tables. In picturesque South Chico at the corner of Broadway and West 16th streets.

Community (20th Street) Park
Thirty acres of ball fields, a playground, tennis and volleyball courts, barbecue pedestals, picnic tables and grassy expanses. Access at east end of Cleveland Street near Chapman School or on Whitman Avenue, a block off East 20th Street.

Par Courses

Lower Bidwell Park
A three-mile run with 20 stations spins off North Park Drive near Sycamore Pool.

Chico State dorm course
Half-mile loop with 10 stations behind Mechoopda, Konkow and Esken dorms. On West Sacramento Avenue half a block west of Warner Avenue.

20th Street Park
No par course stations, but the perimeter of the 30-acre park is nearly a mile, all on grass. Take Whitman Avenue one block off East 20th Street.

Public Golf Courses

Bidwell Park Golf Course
An 18-hole course in Upper Bidwell Park (pictured). Professional lessons available, along with apparel and equipment. Open every day except Christmas dawn to dusk. Greens fees: Weekdays: $22 until twilight (1:30 p.m); $14 after. Weekends: $29 until twilight; $17 after. Carts (for one person) $12.50 per person for 18 holes. Will take starting time reservations up to seven days ahead. About a mile up Wildwood Avenue off Manzanita. 891-8417.

Sunset Hills Golf Course
A small, nine-hole course in north Chico. Driving range, snack bar and pro shop on-site plus a new, night light driving range and grass hitting area. Open every day except Christmas dawn to dusk. Greens fees: $10 for nine holes, and $18 for eighteen holes on weekdays. Weekend and holiday rates are $12 for nine holes and $18 for 18. No reservations. Corner of The Esplanade and Garner Lane. 342-4600.

Skyway Golf Park
Newly expanded to a six-hole course, with lights for night golfing. Driving range, three golf pros on staff, reservations recommended. Fees $5 for Monday thru Thursday, $6 Friday thru Sunday. Located at 1 Longest Drive. 899-8108.

The Course at Lava Creek
This scenic, nine-hole course and driving range is located at 5325 Clark Road in Paradise. There’s a PGA pro on staff, and tournaments are welcome. Weekday greens fees run $10 for nine holes and $15 to play them twice. Weekends are $12 and $18, respectively. Reservations recommended for cart rental. 872-GOLF. (Unlimited golf for $9 after 6 o’clock.)

Tuscan Ridge Golf Club
Recently reopened, Tuscan Ridge is located on the Skyway a little less than halfway to Paradise. Reservations recommended. The 18-hole course has a driving range and golf pro instructors. Weekday fees are $20 to walk for 18 holes, $32 to ride a cart, with twilight hours after 3 p.m. costing $12 to walk, $18 to ride. On weekends, it’s $25 to walk, $37 to ride and for twilight it’s $15 and $21, respectively. There’s a $5 discount for seniors and students. 343-3862.