… is Bidwell Park.
Bear Hole is the relatively easy-access swimming hole in Upper Park. It’s about nine miles from downtown, an easy bike ride for a twenty-year-old, through the riparian habitat in Lower Park, and on into the oak grasslands of Upper Park.
I used to freeze my half-full water bottles, top them off with fresh water, and ride off with a sandwich and a coke from Frank & Martha’s Deli on Warner Street. At Five Mile I’d stop and top off the water, then go another four miles or so up-canyon to Bear Hole, where I’d swim and cool off, eat my sandwich, and maybe nap in the sun. It was downhill all the way home at sunset.
I made this ride year round, even in rain—I LOVED getting muddy—although during the cold months I didn’t swim in the Sierra Nevada melt-water. No thanks!
While I lived in Chico, I never made it up to Salmon Hole, which is up the trail from Bear Hole. Lizzie took me there on our hike, and now I regret not experiencing this place in my youth, when I was local.
I could walk in this landscape all day and never be bored. In fact, when I’m in it, I go into a little fugue of happiness, an envelope that feels impervious at the time.
North Rim Trail
Even in the rain.