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15 of the Best Adventure and Hiking Spots in Butte County

Adven­tur­ing and hik­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia is abun­dant and beau­ti­ful — and Butte Coun­ty is no excep­tion, espe­cial­ly if you’re look­ing for options that are more eas­i­ly accessed. From the trails run­ning through­out Chico’s Bid­well Park to water­fall-stud­ded ones in Oroville to high­er ele­va­tion snowy adven­tures, you’ll find some of the best hik­ing trails and adven­ture spots in the North State. 

Our list of the top 15 adven­ture and hik­ing spots in Butte Coun­ty is a great place to start your explorations.

Make sure to review hik­ing best prac­tices and trail eti­quette and fol­low Leave No Trace prin­ci­ples as you explore.

Feath­er Falls Scenic Trail*

With fans vot­ing the Feath­er Falls Scenic Trail the favorite Butte Coun­ty out­door spot, they declared that it real­ly is all about the jour­ney over the des­ti­na­tion. Lead­ing to the beau­ti­ful (and third-favorite spot) Feath­er Falls, the trail is a stun­ning and chal­leng­ing 7‑to‑9 mile hike through the Plumas Nation­al For­est. Whether you choose the short­er and more chal­leng­ing or longer yet eas­i­er trail, you’ll enjoy incred­i­ble views of Bald Rock Dome, Bald Rock Canyon, and Feath­er Falls (both on the way in and up-close) as you walk through the canopied forest.

*Due to exten­sive dam­age from the North Com­plex Fire, Feath­er Falls, the trail, and its sur­round­ing areas ARE INDEF­I­NITE­LY CLOSED to hik­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, and fish­ing due to ongo­ing recov­ery efforts. The trail to Feath­er Falls was bad­ly dam­aged and is extreme­ly dan­ger­ous — any­one who tries to visit/​hike the area will be cited.

Yahi Trail

The most pop­u­lar trail in Chico’s Bid­well Park, the pedes­tri­an-only Yahi Trail fol­lows Big Chico Creek with plen­ty of shade and a stun­ning spring wild­flower dis­play. Though the trail is 8.8 miles out-and-back, there are plen­ty of entry points along the way, many with park­ing lots near­by, mak­ing the Yahi an ide­al trail for all skill lev­els. In the sum­mer, you’ll espe­cial­ly enjoy stop­ping for a dip in one of the many nat­ur­al swim­ming holes along the way.

Many Water­falls Cross-Coun­try Loop

A spring­time favorite, the Many Water­falls Cross-Coun­try Loop on the North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve earns its name dur­ing the wet sea­son, when at least nine, and up to 14 water­falls, start flow­ing after a rain­fall. The chal­leng­ing hike is well worth get­ting a lit­tle wet and mud­dy for. In late win­ter and ear­ly spring, you’ll def­i­nite­ly want to track any storms com­ing through the area and make sure to hike it right after­wards to see the most waterfalls.

Big Chico Creek Eco­log­i­cal Reserve

Com­pris­ing near­ly 4,000 acres of diverse canyon and ridge habi­tats, includ­ing 4.5 miles of its name­sake, the Big Chico Creek Eco­log­i­cal Reserve is an edu­ca­tion­al resource for Chico State as well as a beau­ti­ful loca­tion to enjoy nature view­ing. Open from dawn to dusk dai­ly, cel­e­brate the diver­si­ty of flo­ra and fau­na found in the reserve with a nature hike.

North Rim Trail

One of the longest trails in Upper Bid­well Park, North Rim Trail is pop­u­lar with both hik­ers and bik­ers for its sweep­ing views of the park offered from the look­out point at its end. The grad­ual grade and well-estab­lished trail make the trail fair­ly easy, though you can jump onto adja­cent trails to increase your chal­lenge and see even more of the park.

Low­er Bid­well Park

More acces­si­ble than its Upper Park coun­ter­part, Low­er Bid­well Park is flat and lev­el, with paved paths, mak­ing it the per­fect spot for easy, fam­i­ly-friend­ly, and wheel­chair acces­si­ble strolls and bike rides. Rough­ly 6 miles roundtrip and most­ly cov­ered with a thick canopy of trees, the loop around Low­er Park is a leisure­ly one.

Butte Creek Eco­log­i­cal Preserve

The Butte Creek Eco­log­i­cal Pre­serve is a beau­ti­ful 93-acre site along the mid­dle sec­tion of Butte Creek. It’s home to many species of spe­cial sta­tus, mak­ing for extra-spe­cial hikes through the Butte Creek water­shed area.

Guardian Trail

Espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar with cyclists but great for hik­ers as well, the exposed sin­gle track that is the Guardian Trail offers sweep­ing views of the Chico Creek Canyon below and the val­ley to the west. All down­hill with some extreme drop-offs along the trail edges, it’s a dif­fi­cult and reward­ing ride.

Annie Bid­well Trail

On the Annie Bid­well Trail, you’ll find beau­ti­ful views of Big Chico Creek with few­er crowds than those found on some oth­er trails in Bid­well Park—which is great for those who do make it out there. They’ll get to enjoy few­er peo­ple as they take in equal­ly great vis­tas, espe­cial­ly the spring wild­flow­ers and fall col­or changes.

Dome Trail

Per­haps the most dif­fi­cult hike in all of Butte Coun­ty, Dome Trail is a must for expe­ri­enced hik­ers and adven­tur­ers. You’ll plunge near­ly 1,600 feet over two miles, squeeze through a nar­row rock crevice, and tra­verse a steep stair­case to the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er. You’ll be award­ed with views of Big Bald Rock along the way and nat­ur­al swim­ming holes at the riv­er. Just remem­ber — you have the exhaust­ing return (all uphill) trip.

Pacif­ic Crest Trail Through Butte County

The Pacif­ic Crest Trail (PCT) is a long-dis­tance hik­ing trail trav­el­ing from Mex­i­co to Cana­da. Butte Coun­ty shares a 12 mile stretch of the PCT (with Plumas Coun­ty) near the halfway point. The six mile hike between Hum­boldt Sum­mit and Hum­bug Sum­mit fea­tures amaz­ing views of the sur­round­ing moun­tains, includ­ing Lassen Peak, and offers a chance to vis­it Butte Coun­ty’s high point (at 7,124 feet).

Brad Free­man Trail

His­to­ry buffs may find the Brad Free­man Trail in Oroville par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing, as it pro­vides a tour of Amer­i­can rail­road his­to­ry, of Cal­i­for­nia gold rush his­to­ry, and of the Oroville Dam. But you don’t have to have much inter­est in the his­to­ry around the trail to appre­ci­ate the 41-mile adven­ture that offers a vari­ety of scenic vis­tas and day trip options. It’s one of the best ways to expe­ri­ence Oroville and all that it has to offer.

Snow­mo­bil­ing in Jonesville

Dur­ing the win­ter, the high coun­try along the north­east­ern bor­der of Butte Coun­ty turns into one of its few spots for snowy adven­tures, with snow­mo­bil­ing in Jonesville a par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar choice. The snow­mo­bile park locat­ed at the Jonesville Stag­ing Area pro­vides over 60 miles of groomed trails, with sev­er­al loop options. From there, you can access Col­by Moun­tain Look­out for views of Lassen Peak or even ride all the way to Lake Almanor for a full day of adventure.

Hum­boldt Peak

Locat­ed along the high­est ridge in Butte Coun­ty, the hike to Hum­boldt Peak is a short but reward­ing one, tak­ing you to the (almost) high­est point in the coun­ty at 7,087 feet. To get there, you’ll fol­low a por­tion of the famed Pacif­ic Crest Trail and then up a faint climbers trail to the peak. You’ll be reward­ed with a 360-degree view, includ­ing the tip of Mount Shas­ta on a clear day.

Clay Pit State Vehi­cle Recre­ation Area

A dif­fer­ent kind of adven­tur­ing spot, the Clay Pit SVRA is a play­ground for dirt bik­ers, ATV own­ers, and 4×4 enthu­si­asts. Filled with roads, tracks, and off-road adven­tures, it’s a great way for the whole fam­i­ly to get a lit­tle dusty. Or come after the rains for a mud­dy adventure.