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.
Vehicular traffic through Lower Park is open on Petersen Memorial Way on the north side of Big Chico Creek and on South Park Drive east of the Chico Creek Nature Center (access via East 8th Street).
Upper Bidwell Park is located in a majestic canyon with spectacular vistas. With Big Chico Creek flowing through and a diverse selection of flora, fauna and geology, Upper Park is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. With the exception of the pedestrian-only Yahi Trail, all trails (approximately 70 miles worth) are open to hikers, equestrians and bicyclists. During times of wet weather, trails may be closed to bikes and horses. For a safe visit, bicyclists of all ages must wear helmets when riding off pavement.
Swimming in Upper Park, although fun and relaxing, has the potential to be hazardous. Don’t be a victim. For your safety and the safety of others, stay in areas where there is no white water and swim with friends.
Horseshoe Lake, at the base of Upper Park, is the perfect place to begin your hike or bike trip into the foothills. Follow Upper Park Road or one of the many park trails for a good workout and spectacular views. Although there is no swimming allowed in Horseshoe Lake, it is the perfect place for a family outing. Bring a picnic and view the magnificent spring flowers. Kids can try their hand at fishing in the lake from the new, handicap-accessible pier. The Chico Community Observatory offers public telescopes for star-gazing.
Five Mile Recreation Area offers visitors picnic tables, barbecues and plenty of open space, making it a popular spot for large group gatherings.
Hooker Oak Recreation Area is a great place for an all-American game of baseball. It is operated by the Chico Area Recreation and Park District (CARD) and is utilized by several local softball and baseball leagues. Two children’s playgrounds and plenty of open space make Hooker Oak a terrific place to spend a day of fun and activity. Fields can be reserved by calling CARD offices at (530) 895-4711.
Horseshoe Lake is a good spot for staring a hike as well as spring wildflower viewing.
Bidwell Park Municipal Golf Course is an 18-hole course with a par of 72/73. The tree-lined course offers a beautiful view and great golfing for any skill level. For a tee time contact the course at (530) 891-8417.
The Chico Park Department typically holds volunteer trail maintenance projects throughout the year. The Park Department has also instituted an Adopt-A-Trail program. Individuals or groups interested in volunteering or adopting a trail can call the Park Department at (530) 896-7800.