Hiking Like a Local Through Paradise
Before the height of the summer heat began, my wife and I decided to take in a few sights around Paradise. The Paradise Recreation and Parks District has revitalized the area and made it a truly lovely spot to visit, and two hikes in particular are sure to please just about anyone: the Yellowstone Kelly Heritage Trail and Paradise Lake. These were perfect for us because after starting the year strong with regular hiking and other activities, a mild knee injury and the increasingly hot weather caused us to spend quite a lot of time indoors and inactive. A pair of easier hikes was just what the doctor ordered to get us back outside before the highest heat of summer.
Yellowstone Kelly Heritage Trail
We began one early June weekend with the Yellowstone Kelly Heritage Trail, which is located in the heart of downtown Paradise. With its trailhead at Community Park and across the street from Joy Lyn’s Candies, this trail was a perfect opportunity to learn about Paradise’s history via the placards that appear frequently along the sides of the path, all while being spurred on by the thought of delicious rewards at the end of our journey.
When we arrived, we discovered that the Yellowstone Kelly Trail almost requires a good, wide-brimmed hat and some sunscreen, as there isn’t much shade along the beginning part of the path we walked. Going early can also help with the effects of a summer day’s heat, and we were grateful we had chosen to get an early start. I was impressed initially by the fact that the Yellowstone Kelly Trail and the small park across from Joy Lyn’s have a welcoming atmosphere, more so than I remembered from the last time we’d visited. All of this made us more inclined to explore the area than to actually start walking, and we began reading the historical plaques that begin at the outset and dotted the sides of the trail.
The trail is likely as valuable for its historical lessons as it is for the walk itself. We were able to learn a great deal about the colorful history of Paradise and the many notable individuals, families, and businesses that helped shape it into what it is today. While I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Paradise over the years, I always knew a good deal more about the history of Chico and other areas of Butte County, so it was gratifying to learn more about what has given Paradise its legacy as we took in its sights from the path. The trek is a little over 4 miles point-to-point, which makes it easy to tailor to whatever you or your group is looking for by walking out and back, We opted to take it slow, enjoy the information, and turn around before the halfway point, hoping to return to walk the entire stretch in the fall.
A short, sweet-smelling stop at Joy Lyn’s Candies, one of the best candy shops in the county, finished things off for us. There’s an abundance of treats there, with an especially prominent focus on chocolate. It’s a place we visit just about every time we go to Paradise, but is particularly satisfying after an out-and-back walk on the Yellowstone Kelly Trail.
For more of a proper hike toward the end of June, we decided to finally try the trail around Paradise Lake. Despite having lived in the area for several years, and having made any number of day trips out to Paradise, the lake area was something we’d never explored. At about 9 miles out-and-back, certainly it’s easy to take as long or short a trek as you’d like. We opted for something of a mid-range total distance, enjoying not only the leisurely drive in, but a slow walk that allowed us to take in the many natural details of the environment. From bugs to squirrels, ducks, slugs, and more, the area around Paradise Lake is a quiet marvel of wild nature. Despite this, we found the path to be especially well-tended, making it comfortable to walk on and quite level, with small, unobtrusive bits of paint at the tops of any particularly large rocks embedded in its surface. This makes it perfect for anyone like me who may suffer from mild mobility injuries that occasionally flare up, or older or moderately less-abled folks who still want the chance to go on a good, solid hike without having to worry too much about their footing.
We used a small amount of insect repellant about halfway through, though it generally wasn’t an unpleasantly bug-heavy walk. We were equipped with hats (and sunscreen in our bag for the sake of preparedness), and this was to our advantage for the sunnier parts of the hike. Thankfully, Paradise Lake has abundant tree cover, so depending on which side of the lake you’re walking and the position of the sun, you might find yourself in more or less shade—but chances are good that at least half of your walk will be shaded if you time it right. We went earlier in the morning, and the ambient temperature was quite cool for most of the walk, despite generally high seasonal temperatures.
Both of these easy hikes made for pleasant summer excursions, helping to get us back on our feet after too much time sitting at home over the previous month, acting as springboards to get us back on the trails, working toward exploring all the trails on our #HikeButtaCA passes.
In Explore Butte County's "Live Like a Local" series, Butte County locals are invited to share their experiences about the best places to go, see, and experience. “Hike Like a Local” is a specific LLL series focused on hiking trails in Butte County. This is the fourth piece in the series. Read the first, second, and third piece.