By Chuck Giles
Butte County has a suitable niche if you want to hike, bike, bird watch, hunt or fish.Try travelling from the mountainous Butte Meadows on the north, to agriculture rich Gridley southward. Somewhere along the route, you will find the venue that fits your idea of outdoor fun.
Where to begin? Butte County is home of the nation’s largest earth filled dam, historic mansions, majestic rivers and canyons where glimpses of wildlife are common. Butte County also offers world class salmon fishing on the Feather and Sacramento Rivers, museums to peruse, large cities, small towns, state parks, county parks and oak laden campgrounds. Some of the state’s best big game, upland birds and waterfowl hunting opportunities also exist here. A 54-pound gold nugget was discovered in one of its quaint towns, and friendly people await both the young and old.
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area: A fishing/camping destination second to none. Many a novice bass fisherman has cut his teeth on this huge foothill impoundment. Fishing for bass, coho salmon and trout are especially popular. For the river fishing enthusiasts, both the Feather and Sacramento Rivers running through the heart of Butte County offer salmon, shad and steelhead fishing and are the destination points for anglers all over the state.
If you prefer being land-based, one can journey in with their RV and spend the night at one of many lakeside campgrounds.
Feather Falls, the nation’s sixth tallest waterfall, is east of Oroville, the county seat. The trail to this spectacular vista is always well maintained. Bring a lunch and relax right next to this magnificent icon of Butte County. More Lake OrovilleButte County offers many worthwhile side trips. Take a tour of the fish hatchery at the base of Table Mountain Road in Oroville. This famous site offers the public a wonderful view of Chinook
Salmon rising up the ladders in acrobatic jumps and tumbles. During the fall of the year California Department of Fish and Game employees are busy milking the eggs from these fish as you watch from a viewing platform.
Up Cherokee Road you will pass the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. In the spring of the year, this venue offers wild flower viewing second to none. In addition, the reserve offers spectacular geologic examples of lava capped landscapes.
Paradise is a short drive up the appropriately named “Skyway.” Residents here are proud of the town slogan, “All the name implies.” This small town is also the gateway to some of the best hunting, fishing and recreational prospects in Northern California.
Local celebrations abound inviting everyone to enjoy some “down home” festivities. Go back in time and celebrate “Gold Nugget Days” each spring with the locals.
This is an eclectic group of small town and forest villages presenting the visitor all manner of activities. Each community provides easy access down into the Feather River canyon where one can prospect or fish.
Butte Meadows can also be reached via the Skyway and Innskip. Butte County’s share of Highway 70 is a major thoroughfare full of spectacular views of the Feather River in all her rugged glory. Incomparable vertical walls of greenery and granite surround you at nearly every turn. Trips to the valley floor are just as exciting for those who love to fish or hunt.
Chico is the most populous city in Butte County. Downtown is full of busy shops of all types and parking is easy. On East 20th Street The famous Sierra Nevada brewery is open to visitors and their lunches are second to none. Chico is also home to Chico State University.
The Chico Mall is just a few blocks from here and boasts major anchor stores along with several sporting good outlets. To get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, one can merely walk into one of the many Bidwell Park accesses and unwind in a gorgeous setting.
Bidwell Park encompasses over 3500 acres and runs from mid-city well into the surrounding foothills. Big Chico Creek is the focal point of this natural wonderland and the surrounding trails invite hikers, equestrian enthusiasts, birders and the casual walker to a plethora of attractions.
Amid the natural beauty of Bidwell Park lies a man-made oasis for the golfer in the family. Eighteen scenic holes can be played while others in the group shop in the many quaint businesses nearby in downtown Chico.
Within this small section of Northern California is a destination point for any who choose to partake in every aspect of the outdoors. For the traveler willing to get off the pavement, wet a line or swirl a gold pan, the only extravagance here is nature at her very best.
Welcome to Butte County!
Photos courtesy of the author, Bruce Johnson, Bobby Larson, Emily Bryden, Ron Gandolfi, Jason Haley, City of Chico, Butte County and CA DFG
For additional information about Butte County visit these websites: