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Bidwellian

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When Matt and I left San Francisco last October, that is what we fled from. Our previously quiet, working class neighborhood had turned into a 24-hour-a-day frat party.

It took time to settle into this very different way of life. The blogging has suffered. And I never stopped to introduce you to our new home.

Chico is an agricultural and university town in northern California. One of my favorite things about it is that it is home to Bidwell Park, the country’s 13th largest city-owned park. It comprises 18% of the city, which means it’s huge.

I used to tell Matt how much I missed the park—my old mountain biking days, packing a picnic, riding to Bear Hole for a cold swim, riding home. The color of the light through the trees and grass in the evening. And he was all like, “Yeah, she liked that park.”

Then we moved, and we started biking there. Picnics, dips, rides on dirt through redbud and towering sycamore, flaming chinese pistache, peeling manzanita, blue and live oak, strawberry madrone, Oregon grape. Miles of dirt and paved trail. THEN he was all like, “Oh. Wow. Its not that you like the park. It’s that the park is special.”

Bidwell Park begins in a wide foothills canyon, and paces Big Chico Creek through Upper Park and Lower Park. Bear Hole, Salmon Hole, Alligator Hole, Brown’s Hole, Sierra meltwater swimming holes for those 110̊ days, all superb swimming holes less populated the further in you go.

It’s also where the wildflowers really begin. The wild grasses and wildflowers. Lupins and clovers. Sweet pea and vetch. Red maids, scarlet pumpernickel, purple mouse ears. Flowers with names like butter-and-eggs, and frying pans. California Poppy, my favorite. They wilt immediately when picked, but on a grassy hillside in summer? Glory.

Lower Park is much more populated, and ends with the HIGHLY popular Sycamore Pool, a gathering place for the entire town on hot summer days.

Sycamore Pool at One-Mile, Bidwell Park.

Sycamore Pool last summer, free to the public.

Big Chico Creek flows into Bidwell Park from the Sierra Nevadas, and flows west through the park until it fills Sycamore Pool.

Fall on Lower Park Road.


Oaks and sycamores arch in the prevailing winds.

From stem to stern, Bidwell Park is nearly eleven miles long. Did I mention there are hiking and biking trails throughout? Or that you can bring your cat?

edited to add: I just realized I actually posted this as “Introducing Bidwell” back in April! Forgot completely, massively edited the original, and republished. Oops!
“Who remembers?”
~Jane Hoover

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