Multiple Cities Family Adventure Hiking Trails State & Regional Parks

7 Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails in Butte County

Any well-round­ed fam­i­ly trip often includes an out­door adven­ture! Kids need to burn off ener­gy, and explor­ing new out­door spaces is fun and excit­ing for the whole fam­i­ly. But find­ing hik­ing trails for kids that cap­ture the spir­it of where you’re vis­it­ing, while also meet­ing your fam­i­ly’s adven­ture needs, is a tricky balance.

You’re in luck! Butte Coun­ty is not only full of real­ly BUTTE-iful hik­ing trails, but I’ve gone ahead and tak­en the guess­work out of your fam­i­ly out­door adven­ture plan­ning. I’ve col­lect­ed some of the most icon­ic Butte Coun­ty hik­ing trails that are per­fect for kids. 

Berry Creek

Big Bald Rock

Big Bald Rock is out-of-the-way trail is absolute­ly worth the dri­ve! Not only are the dri­ve-by views of Lake Oroville love­ly, but the awe-inspir­ing scenic views of Plumas Nation­al Forest from Big Bald Rock are stunning.

The short dirt trail from the park­ing lot to Big Bald Rock is uphill but easy. Once you arrive at the rocks, it’s less of a trail and more of an explor­ing adven­ture. There are large boul­ders that are per­fect for climb­ing and oth­ers that are fun for jump­ing. If your child loves to hop and climb, this is the per­fect trail for your fam­i­ly to explore!

Impor­tant Notes

  1. There is lit­tle to no shade, so come pre­pared for mean­der­ing in direct sun.

  2. There are also some cracks and spaces between a lot of rocks where chil­dren could stum­ble and get hurt. 

  3. Make sure to find a land mark­er to remem­ber the way back to the park­ing lot. There is not a trail to fol­low up on the rocks, so remem­ber to pay atten­tion to which direc­tion and how far you trav­el while hik­ing up on the Big Bald Rock.


Brad Free­man Trail

The Brad Free­man Trail is a favorite trail for kids because one mile in there is a large, long, dark tun­nel. This trail and tun­nel used to be part of the West­ern Pacif­ic Rail­road sys­tem, so if you are look­ing for a his­tor­i­cal ele­ment on your adven­ture, this may just be the per­fect fam­i­ly trail.

To make it even bet­ter, the trail is most­ly flat, all-ter­rain stroller-friend­ly, and mean­ders next to the Ther­mal­i­to Diver­sion Pool. Wildlife is often abun­dant, though there are no eas­i­ly acces­si­ble spots to get to the water.

If you are look­ing for a longer adven­ture, don’t wor­ry. The trail does not end at the tun­nel. In fact, it con­tin­ues for an addi­tion­al five miles (about six miles one way from the park­ing area at Lake­land Boule­vard) to the Oroville Upper Dam Overlook.

Impor­tant Notes

  1. This por­tion of the trail is locat­ed at the Lake­land Boule­vard park­ing area.

  2. This is used for both hik­ing and bik­ing, so be on the look­out for bikes.


Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

Are you a bird-lov­ing fam­i­ly? Or per­haps you enjoy fish­ing? If so, you do not want to miss the two easy trails mean­der­ing among the pro­tect­ed wet­lands in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in low­er Butte Coun­ty. With ample bird­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties in the win­ter months and prime fish­ing in the spring and sum­mer, this is a won­der­ful place to explore with children.

The main nature trail is a dirt 1.8‑mile-long path, but there is an addi­tion­al short­er paved trail as well. 

Impor­tant notes

  1. A CDFW lands pass pur­chase required to vis­it—pur­chase online or pay in cash on-site

  2. This adven­ture is in full sun, so pre­pare accordingly.

Par­adise Ridge

Par­adise Lake

If you are look­ing for a neat trail up in Par­adise, Par­adise Lake in Mag­a­lia is a per­fect one for the fam­i­ly. Not only is the path wide, well main­tained, and all-ter­rain stroller friend­ly, but this sev­en-mile out-and-back trail offers love­ly views of the lake and sur­round­ing for­est. Plus, there are occa­sion­al bath­rooms and bench­es right along­side the trail, which are always a bonus when hik­ing with kids.

Did we men­tion there is a day-use pic­nic area and a small play­ground? What more could you ask for?

Impor­tant notes

  1. There is a $3 park­ing fee to use the trail and day-use area. 

  2. There are no dogs allowed. 

  3. The trail is also pop­u­lar for bik­ing but is wide enough that is easy to move over for them to pass.


Chico Canyon Trailhead

Chico Canyon Trail­head begins near the 5‑Mile Recre­ation Area (at the start of the Annie Bid­well Trail) and is the start to many choose-your-own kid-friend­ly hik­ing adven­tures in Upper Bid­well Park. The first .4 miles is actu­al­ly an old road and mean­ders along Big Chico Creek. This part of the path is flat, wide, all-ter­rain stroller friend­ly, and even offers a cou­ple of eas­i­ly acces­si­ble paths down to the creek.

After the first .4 mile, the trail splits into two dif­fer­ent trails. This is where you pick your adven­ture based on your fam­i­ly’s abil­i­ties and desires! 

Turn around: If you have tod­dlers, want to play in the water, or are look­ing for a short, easy out­door adven­ture, you can eas­i­ly turn around when you see the path split.

To the left: The trail will nar­row, cross a bridge, and mean­der onto the Bid­well Park Golf Course. There is a small sign that says trail,” which will quick­ly help you nav­i­gate off the golf course. This trail — known as the Low­er Yahi Short­cut — leads you into the heart of Upper Bid­well Park end­ing at Upper Park Road. Again you get to choose your own adven­ture. Once you come to a road, if you turn right, hike up along the road toward the Yahi Trail­head (see more below). Turn left, and you can hike down the road to Horse­shoe lake.

Head straight: Here you will find your­self in a dense and won­der­ful olive grove hik­ing along Annie Bid­well Trail. This olive grove is won­der­ful for explor­ing and more often than not there are golf ball trea­sures to be found. This trail nar­rows and remains most­ly flat for about anoth­er 14 mile. After that, the trail mean­ders along a steep ledge (South Rim Trail) and while it is still safe for chil­dren who are accus­tomed to hik­ing and being care­ful, it may not be appro­pri­ate for all ages or all kids. 

Impor­tant notes

  1. The Annie Bid­well and South Rim Trails are pop­u­lar moun­tain bik­ing trails, so be pre­pared to move over for quick-mov­ing bikers.

Mon­key Face

Mon­key Face is one of the most icon­ic Chico hikes on the list! The loop trail is about one-mile total, but a per­fect chal­lenge for chil­dren. The switch-back trail leads to the top of a rock for­ma­tion that resem­bles a mon­key’s face, hence the name. So, not only can you and your chil­dren enjoy the won­der­ful views of Chico from the top, but you can enjoy iden­ti­fy­ing the mon­key fea­tures while you hike.

After you’ve had your fill of scenic views, you can turn around and go back the way you came, or explore the North Rim of Upper Bid­well Park.

Impor­tant notes

  1. There are sev­er­al trails that begin at the base of Mon­key Face, but the Mon­key Face trail is to the left of the rock fea­ture and easy enough to find and follow. 

  2. This is anoth­er full sun hike, so plan on sun hats and sunscreen.

Yahi Trail

The Yahi Trail is a per­fect trail for lit­tle hik­ers! Though the trail is about 4.5 miles long one way, it is real­ly easy to explore in seg­ments. The trail mean­ders along Big Chico Creek and is almost com­plete­ly shad­ed in sum­mer. This makes it a great trail to hike in the heat of sum­mer. There are so many places to stop along the trail and enjoy the creek, that the whole fam­i­ly can take a break from hik­ing to explore the water.

Impor­tant notes

  1. The trail­head for Yahi Trail is right along Upper Park Road and offers very lit­tle park­ing. But this trail mean­ders along the Big Chico Creek through­out Upper Park, so park­ing lots F‑T (includ­ing all the pop­u­lar swim­ming holes) will take you to a dif­fer­ent por­tion of the trail.