The Best Wildflower Locations in Butte County Beyond Table Mountain
Spring is a magical time in Butte County, California. As the snow melts and the temperatures rise, the landscape comes alive with a riot of colors. Wildflowers bloom in abundance, creating a breathtaking sight that is not to be missed. While the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a popular destination for wildflower enthusiasts, there are several other places in Butte County that offer equally stunning displays of wildflowers (with much smaller crowds).
Here are four locations that you don't want to miss.
Many are convinced that the biggest wildflower show in Butte County is found north of Table Mountain at Chico's Bidwell Park—why not come for a visit and decide for yourself?
Bidwell Park, especially the rugged portion of Upper Bidwell Park nestled in Big Chico Creek Canyon, is host to dazzling wildflower blooms that morph throughout the spring season. The variety of terrain found at Bidwell Park leads to a huge variety of wildflower viewing opportunities. Secretive lilies can start appearing as early as February, carpets of yellow and orange peak in late March and early April, and blooms continue into the higher elevations of the park through May.
The easiest but busiest access to Upper Bidwell Park is the Horseshoe Lake area. Open fields around Horseshoe Lake usually put on a show that satisfies a quick visit, but wildflower enthusiasts will want to venture deeper into Big Chico Creek Canyon or atop North or South Rim to discover more viewing opportunities.
South Rim can also be accessed from the Peregrine Point Disc Golf Course (which has its own wonderful wildflower display in the spring!). A great place to start in late spring is the Ten Mile House trailhead (the Green Gate) along Highway 32.
Right off of Highway 70 in Oroville, the North Thermalito Forebay is quickly and easily accessible. The paved path wrapping around Rattlesnake Hill is also wheelchair accessible allowing visitors to enjoy spring wildflowers with ease. This 1.2 mile loop may be short but it includes one of the most photogenic spots in Butte County—the Sutter Buttes rising behind the North Forebay’s footbridge.
The North Thermalito Forebay is part of Lake Oroville State Recreation Area and has an $8 day use fee. Come for the wildflowers, but max your trip by bringing your kayaks or a picnic lunch!
Trip Tips for Wildflower Viewing
Stay on established trails to let wildflowers prevail
Take pictures instead of flowers
Take those pictures OF, not IN, wildflowers
The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area has dozens of miles of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians that meander through the oak woodlands surrounding the lake. The sunnier stretches enjoy carpets of purple and gold during peak bloom while lilies pop in the shadier areas.
There’s free parking at the Lake Oroville Visitor Center where you can track down flowers on the way out to Kelly Ridge Point or Oroville Dam. Potter’s Ravine on the far side of Oroville Dam has enjoyed stellar wildflower blooms in recent years while regenerating after a wildfire.
What do you do when it starts to heat up in the Sacramento Valley but you still want more wildflowers? Head up into Butte County’s foothill region! Paradise Lake keeps the bloom going into May and June with forest favorites like lupine, bleeding heart, and flowering dogwood trees.
Paradise Lake has a gentle 4.5 mile walking path around the East shore of the lake. There’s a $3 day use fee to visit the walking path or picnic area. The fee is $10 if you plan on bringing a boat.
Butte County is a veritable paradise for wildflower enthusiasts. With its stunning landscape and abundant flora, there are several locations that offer breathtaking displays of wildflowers. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual nature lover, there's something for everyone in Butte County. So pack your camera, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to be dazzled by the beauty of spring in Butte County.