Doing fun things outdoors: That’s what this column’s about. My brother Scott and I, as part of our training to walk the upcoming Sacramento Cowtown Marathon on Oct. 2, recently hiked a roughly 16-mile loop covering the North and South rims and the creek-containing canyon of Upper Bidwell Park. It took us six-and-one-half hours, beginning and ending at our car parked near the Kiwanis Observatory next to Horseshoe Lake. Not for the faint of heart, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
You see cool stuff: A lone deer watched us tramp along the rocky lava cap of the North Rim Trail; a fragrant bay tree and a classic wild bee hive at the base of another tree on “B” Trail; broken-down old livestock shelters and wild fig trees on 10-Mile House Road; couple of mysterious little rock piles and strategically placed sticks signifying who-knows-what? There are great views of the canyon and the Sacramento Valley in the distance, and occasional wildflowers, even at this time of year. And no people whatsoever for about three hours or more in the farthest reaches of the park.
• Get your free Upper Park trail map at Sports LTD. (Sections of trail marked in bold are “difficult;” double-diamond-marked trails are “most difficult.”)
• Bring a couple of bottles of water in your fanny pack (plus Power Bars, fruit, etc.). Freeze one of the waters the night before for the second half of your hike.
• Plan your hike so you go down the B Trail and Bloody Pin Trail (which are at the back of the park) into the canyon bottom, instead of up them to the rim trails. They are steep and rough switchback trails, and Bloody Pin is deeply rutted in places and especially rocky. Both are double-diamond trails and would be a bitch to climb.
• 10-Mile House Road is only marked on the end adjoining Guardians Trail up on the South Rim. To pick it up after coming down off of the North Rim, cross Big Chico Creek at point “U” at the end of the park road. (You’re gonna get your feet wet—take off your shoes and socks and watch out for slippery rocks.) You’ll see a brown signpost on the other side of the creek (with no sign on it). Turn right shortly after it onto 10-Mile House Road.
• Be careful. And start early enough to get back while it’s still daytime.
Next week in Where’s the Remote?: The Andy Milonakus Show.