You’ll never know unless you go!

GO DEEP! <br>A short drive east up Highway 32 will take you to the controversial but fun Bidwell Park disc golf course.

A short drive east up Highway 32 will take you to the controversial but fun Bidwell Park disc golf course.

Chico is a hotbed of outdoor activity. With myriad recreational opportunities right out the back door, it’s a perfect jumping-off point for getting out and exploring the area’s parks, trails, creeks, rivers, hills, mountains and wide-open spaces. Even longtime local fun-seekers and nature lovers have yet to experience everything the area has to offer. For visitors, the options will make your head spin. Any season, there are many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the natural environment.Chicoans will be glad to share their favorite excursion spot with you, whether it’s in the vast expanses of Bidwell Park or somewhere up Highway 70, Highway 32 or the Skyway and into the forested mountains. Local sporting goods and bike store employees are happy to give you advice. So whether you’re a weekend warrior or competitive athlete, don’t be shy and ask around.

Most people are well aware that summertime in Chico can get hot. The way to beat the three-digit temperatures is to seek out shade, take a dip in a cool creek or head for the hills. During prolonged heat waves, even sunset doesn’t bring total relief, and moonlight swims are not uncommon. With enough water and the distraction of nature, you might just forget the heat.

The easiest place to start your outdoor adventure is the 3,681-acre playground called Bidwell Park. This gift to the city from Annie Bidwell, the wife of its founder, encompasses Big Chico Creek, following it through shady oak groves in town up to its rugged canyon in the foothills. With both developed areas, mostly in the Lower Park, and wilderness areas, mostly in Upper Park, Bidwell Park has something for everyone. You can jog, stroll, hike, bird watch, golf, play softball or just be by yourself. Bidwell Park also includes an enclosed children’s playground with lots of slides, swings and play-structures called Caper Acres.

So, all you outdoors enthusiasts, enjoy!

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 Tree Improvement Center Nature Trail
Tour this half-mile paved loop along Comanche Creek through 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 Kramer 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.

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 north of 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. Professional lessons available, along with apparel and equipment. Open every day except Christmas, dawn to dusk. Greens fees: Weekdays: $22 until twilight; $14 after. Weekends and holidays: $29 until twilight; $17 after. Carts (for one person) $11.50 for 18 holes; $6.50 for nine holes. Will take starting time reservations up to seven days ahead. About a mile up Wildwood Avenue off Manzanita. 891-8417.

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

Sunset Hills Golf Course
The course may be closed, but the driving range, snack bar and pro shop are still open dawn to dusk every day except Christmas. There’s also a new night light driving range and grass hitting area. Located on the corner of The Esplanade and Garner Lane. 342-4600.

The Course at Lava Creek
This scenic, nine-hole course and driving range are located at 5325 Clark Road in Paradise. Greens fees run $10 for nine holes and $15 to play them twice Monday thru Friday. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are $12 for nine holes and $18 for 18 holes. Reservations recommended for cart rental. Tournaments are welcome. 872-GOLF.

Tuscan Ridge Golf Club
The club’s challenging 18-hole championship golf course winds through the lava rock and up and down the undulating foothill terrain bordering the Skyway. With the recent completion of the clubhouse and restaurant, along with professional instruction and a full grass driving range, Tuscan Ridge is on its way to becoming a premier destination club. The course is open to the public and memberships are available. Greens fees: $21 Monday thru Thursday; $27 Friday thru Sunday. Twilight rates: $15 Monday thru Thursday; $18 Friday thru Sunday. Cart rental: $6 for 9 holes and $12 for 18 holes. 3100 Skyway (take Skyway exit off Hwy. 99 and proceed east for approximately five miles), 343-3862.