Multiple Cities Outdoor Adventurer

The Best Spots to See Wildflowers (Outside of Table Mountain) in Butte County

Spring is a mag­i­cal time in Butte Coun­ty, Cal­i­for­nia. As the snow melts and the tem­per­a­tures rise, the land­scape comes alive with a riot of col­ors. Wild­flow­ers bloom in abun­dance, cre­at­ing a breath­tak­ing sight that is not to be missed. While the North Table Moun­tain Eco­log­i­cal Reserve is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for wild­flower enthu­si­asts, there are sev­er­al oth­er places in Butte Coun­ty that offer equal­ly stun­ning dis­plays of wild­flow­ers (with much small­er crowds).

Here are four loca­tions that you don’t want to miss.

Upper Bid­well Park

Many are con­vinced that the biggest wild­flower show in Butte Coun­ty is found north of Table Moun­tain at Chico’s Bid­well Park—why not come for a vis­it and decide for yourself?

Bid­well Park, espe­cial­ly the rugged por­tion of Upper Bid­well Park nes­tled in Big Chico Creek Canyon, is host to daz­zling wild­flower blooms that morph through­out the spring sea­son. The vari­ety of ter­rain found at Bid­well Park leads to a huge vari­ety of wild­flower view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Secre­tive lilies can start appear­ing as ear­ly as Feb­ru­ary, car­pets of yel­low and orange peak in late March and ear­ly April, and blooms con­tin­ue into the high­er ele­va­tions of the park through May. 

The eas­i­est but busiest access to Upper Bid­well Park is the Horse­shoe Lake area. Open fields around Horse­shoe Lake usu­al­ly put on a show that sat­is­fies a quick vis­it, but wild­flower enthu­si­asts will want to ven­ture deep­er into Big Chico Creek Canyon or atop North or South Rim to dis­cov­er more view­ing opportunities. 

South Rim can also be accessed from the Pere­grine Point Disc Golf Course (which has its own won­der­ful wild­flower dis­play in the spring!). A great place to start in late spring is the Ten Mile House trail­head (the Green Gate) along High­way 32

Rat­tlesnake Hill at the North Ther­mal­i­to Forebay

Right off of High­way 70 in Oroville, the North Ther­mal­i­to Fore­bay is quick­ly and eas­i­ly acces­si­ble. The paved path wrap­ping around Rat­tlesnake Hill is also wheel­chair acces­si­ble allow­ing vis­i­tors to enjoy spring wild­flow­ers with ease. This 1.2 mile loop may be short but it includes one of the most pho­to­genic spots in Butte Coun­ty — the Sut­ter Buttes ris­ing behind the North Forebay’s footbridge.

The North Ther­mal­i­to Fore­bay is part of Lake Oroville State Recre­ation Area and has an $8 day use fee. Come for the wild­flow­ers, but max your trip by bring­ing your kayaks or a pic­nic lunch!

Trip Tips for Wild­flower Viewing

Stay on estab­lished trails to let wild­flow­ers prevail

Take pic­tures instead of flowers

Take those pic­tures OF, not IN, wildflowers

Lake Oroville State Recre­ation Area

The Lake Oroville State Recre­ation Area has dozens of miles of trails for hik­ers, bik­ers, and eques­tri­ans that mean­der through the oak wood­lands sur­round­ing the lake. The sun­nier stretch­es enjoy car­pets of pur­ple and gold dur­ing peak bloom while lilies pop in the shadier areas. 

There’s free park­ing at the Lake Oroville Vis­i­tor Cen­ter where you can track down flow­ers on the way out to Kel­ly Ridge Point or Oroville Dam. Potter’s Ravine on the far side of Oroville Dam has enjoyed stel­lar wild­flower blooms in recent years while regen­er­at­ing after a wildfire. 

The Bid­well Canyon, Loafer Creek, and Lime Sad­dle Recre­ation Areas even offer the chance to view wild­flow­ers from the com­fort of your own tent, camper, or boat!

Par­adise Lake

What do you do when it starts to heat up in the Sacra­men­to Val­ley but you still want more wild­flow­ers? Head up into Butte County’s foothill region! Par­adise Lake keeps the bloom going into May and June with for­est favorites like lupine, bleed­ing heart, and flow­er­ing dog­wood trees. 

Par­adise Lake has a gen­tle 4.5 mile walk­ing path around the East shore of the lake. There’s a $3 day use fee to vis­it the walk­ing path or pic­nic area. The fee is $10 if you plan on bring­ing a boat. 

Butte Coun­ty is a ver­i­ta­ble par­adise for wild­flower enthu­si­asts. With its stun­ning land­scape and abun­dant flo­ra, there are sev­er­al loca­tions that offer breath­tak­ing dis­plays of wild­flow­ers. Whether you’re a sea­soned hik­er or a casu­al nature lover, there’s some­thing for every­one in Butte Coun­ty. So pack your cam­era, put on your hik­ing boots, and get ready to be daz­zled by the beau­ty of spring in Butte County.