Chico Outdoor Adventurer Hiking

Fall and Winter Hikes

While the hik­ing sea­son in Butte Coun­ty is a year-round activ­i­ty, fall and win­ter are par­tic­u­lar­ly won­der­ful sea­sons for hik­ing. It’s the per­fect time to enjoy hik­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia: the val­ley here has mild tem­per­a­tures, leaves begin to change around late Sep­tem­ber through the mid­dle of Octo­ber, and the large amounts of snow that end hik­ing sea­son in the High Coun­try have yet to arrive. Here are our sug­ges­tions for the best sea­son­al hikes in and around Chico.


Upper Bid­well Park

A mag­i­cal place to ven­ture at any time of year, dur­ing the win­ter, the foliage and scenery change through our beloved Upper Bid­well Park makes it an even more spe­cial place. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Yahi Trail : An easy 6.7‑mile shut­tle’ hike that requires two vehi­cles since the start and end points of the hikes are not at the same loca­tion. The hike is along the most sus­tain­able built trails in Upper Park, cross­es Big Chico Creek, and offers tremen­dous views of the canyon, includ­ing Iron Canyon Waterfall.
  • T‑Ford Loop (for­mer­ly Big Chico Creek): This is an excel­lent hike year-round but best when the creek is at low­er lev­els. It’s a mod­er­ate 10.5‑mile day hike, which cross­es the creek and dis­plays just how mag­nif­i­cent Upper Park is.
Fall and Winter Hikes
Chico Hiking Association
  • Old Home­stead : An easy 5.1‑mile hike in Upper Park, it offers beau­ti­ful views of Big Chico Creek canyon at any time as well as Love­joy Falls after sig­nif­i­cant rains. It also has a new­ly ren­o­vat­ed pic­nic table where the Simmon’s cab­in once stood, con­ve­nient­ly locat­ed to have a rest before head­ing up the steep hill.
Fall and Winter Hikes
Chico Hiking Association

Low­er Bid­well Park

Low­er Bid­well Park fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of beau­ti­ful native foliage and his­tor­i­cal orna­men­tal plant­i­ngs that absolute­ly shines in the fall sea­son! There are miles of paved and unpaved trails in Low­er Bid­well Park that can be home to your autumn walk or bike ride. 

Big Chico Creek Eco­log­i­cal Reserve

The Big Chico Creek Eco­log­i­cal Reserve in For­est Ranch pro­tects hun­dreds of plants and many of them put on quite a fall show! Park­ing is avail­able for day hikes on 14-Mile House Road off of High­way 32 — just 11 miles north of High­way 99 in Chico. 

Oroville Area

Phan­tom Falls on Table Mountain

The break-tak­ing hike to Phan­tom Falls is an easy 6.6 mile loop offer­ing views of five water­falls, which begin to flow just after the first big rain falls around mid-Novem­ber due to thin soil on top of the Love­joy Basalt. Because this hike has some cross-coun­try routes, it’s high­ly rec­om­mend­ed to use a reli­able map and bring water.

Fall and Winter Hikes

Many Water­falls Loop on Table Mountain

For those inter­est­ed in a more chal­leng­ing hike, the Many Water­falls Loop offers a chal­leng­ing day hike . At 11.3 miles, the hike fea­tures at least 9 water­falls and up to 14 if you go a few days after a major rain­fall. You’ll also be treat­ed to a view of Beat­son Hol­low, a spot where Bald Eagles have been spotted.

Feath­er Falls

Feath­er Falls is an 8.2‑mile mod­er­ate day hike fea­tures a 415-foot water­fall and beau­ti­ful fall col­or in Novem­ber. There is the upper trail which is longer, but wider and smoother; the low­er trail is short­er but steeper. 

Update Octo­ber 2020: Due to exten­sive dam­age from the North Com­plex Fire, Feath­er Falls, the trail, and its sur­round­ing areas ARE CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 2024 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.

Par­adise Ridge, Durham, and Beyond

Forks of Butte Creek

There are sev­er­al col­or­ful hik­ing options in the Bureau of Land Management’s Forks of Butte Creek Recre­ation Area. Park at the Doe Mill Bridge and you can either hike upstream (easy) or down­stream (easy for the first half-mile, then mod­er­ate). Either way, you’ll see lush patch­es of big-leaf maple and Indi­an rhubarb dur­ing the fall sea­son. The Indi­an Springs trail (mod­er­ate) brings you deep into Butte Creek canyon, but not before treat­ing you to a dense canopy of col­or­ful foliage.

Par­adise Lake

The walk along Par­adise Lake is easy and relax­ing. You’ll be sure to notice the yel­low and caramel leaves of the black oak trees as you stroll along. 

Fall and Winter Hikes

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gri­d­ley fea­tures an easy 2.4 mile stroll that fea­tures splash­es of col­or as well as migra­to­ry birds and mam­mals. This area becomes heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed with birds as ear­ly as mid-Octo­ber and ends with the North­ern migra­tion that hap­pens around ear­ly spring. When the birds begin to migrate, the nice leisure­ly stroll around Gray Lodge becomes a place where you can admire over 300 species of migra­to­ry ani­mals, such as snow geese, pel­i­cans, ducks, and cranes.

Fall and Winter Hikes
Chico Hiking Association

Jonesville Canyon

A short 3.8 mile hike, Jonesville Canyon fea­tures the head­wa­ters of Butte Creek and a small Aspen grove. It’s the low­est in ele­va­tion of our High Coun­try hikes and often is inac­ces­si­ble after sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall in late October.