Northeast of Chico near the city center, the 3,700 acre Bidwell Park has plenty of trails to check out. The park is shrouded by pristine oak woodlands and watered by Big Chico Creek meandering through it. Keep an eye out for 400 year old valley oaks. The Yahi Trail is closed to bikes and is a favorite of local hikers.
Bidwell Park, Chicos crown jewel, was established in 1905 by Annie Bidwell, wife of Chicos founding father, John Bidwell. Originally the land was part of the Bidwells Rancho del Arroyo Chico, one of the first major agricultural proprietorships in California. Bidwell Park was donated to the City of Chico via a series of deeds between 1905 and 1911, five years after John Bidwell s death. The original property was approximately 2,300 acres. However, with subsequent additions and a recent 1,000 acre acquisition, the park now exceeds 3,600 acres, making it the third largest municipal park in the United States.
Bidwell Park is divided by Manzanita Avenue. The area west of Manzanita Avenue is referred to as Lower Park and the area to the east is referred to as Upper Park. The noticeable difference between Upper and Lower Park is the terrain. Upper Park is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It has steep terrain and contains many rock formations, including the unique Chico Formation sandstone and Lovejoy Basalt rocks. Lower Park is flat and level with a thick canopy of trees which provide ample shade for the visitor.
To reach the best trailhead from Chico, head east on East Avenue to the Upper Park Road turnoff. Use the parking lot at Horseshoe Lake.