Thursday, September 18, 2014

Yahi Trail alongside Big Chico Creek in Upper Bidwell Park

Chico Canyon, south rim and Sierra foothills
Chico Canyon, south rim and Sierra foothills seen 
from Yahi Trail in upper Upper Bidwell Park

Yahi Trail post
Most trails in Upper Bidwell Park—east of Chico, located at the northeast edge of Sacramento Valley, California—are open for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.Yahi Trail is for pedestrians only. This path between Big Chico Creek and the Upper Park Road connects various scenic spots of the Chico Canyon. The Upper Bidwell Park section of the Cico Bike Map provides an excellent overview of the trail network and on where bicyclists can access points of interest along Yahi Trail, named Lower Yahi Trail in the map.

The trail begins about half a mile east of the designated parking area E, the trailhead for Monkey Face climbers and a gateway to the northside bike paths of Chico Canyon and its north rim. From the parking area, follow the Upper Park Road and veer right once you get to the signed Yahi Trail. Wooded glens are lining the banks of Chico Creek. You'll find places for wading, dipping and even swimming.
Big Chico Creek at Bear Hole

As you hike further upward, the creek narrows at places. You'll find water holes—some quiet, some whirling—and channels through which the water is jetting. Don't ignore the signs that warn you about Extreme Water Dangers. Respect the wild nature of the creek, although the creek and creek-sides have been cultivated for over hundred years. The most popular hole is Bear Hole with its bathing and swimming holes (!), Lovejoy Basalt linings and a few fig trees.

Hiking (not swimming) deeper into the canyon gets you to Salmon Hole and Devil's Kitchen. Between the parking lots P and Q, Yahi Trail is closely following the Upper Park Road. There, the views into the canyon and over cliffs and spires are breathtaking. Turkey vultures like to soar this area, looking for carrion. Topographically, this is the southwest tip of the Cascade range. Chico Canyon's south rim, which you see across Big Chico Creek and the dense canyon forest, belong to the Sierra Nevada range. But whatever range, Chico Canyon makes for a world by itself.

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