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Bidwell Classic Half Marathon
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Bidwell Park, Nation's Largest Parks - Chico, California

 

Bidwell Park in Chico California is ranked as one of the largest parks in the United States, due to its size. Comprised of over 3670 acres of land with many trails and activities for locals and visitors to enjoy, it stretches nearly 11 miles!  Deeded by the community founders, John and Annie Bidwell, Annie dedicated the first parcel of the park to the City of Chico in 1905 when she gave 2,500 acres to the community. Since that time the park has grown and now encompasses lakes, streams, hiking and equestrian trails, bike trails, a swimming lake and many additional spaces for the community to cherish.

 

Intersected by Manzanita Avenue, the area west of Manzanita Avenue is referred to as Lower Park and the area to the east is referred to as Upper Park. The noticeable difference between Upper and Lower Park is the terrain. Upper Park is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It has steep terrain and contains many rock formations, including the unique Chico Formation sandstone and Lovejoy Basalt rock. Lower Park is flat and level with a thick canopy of trees. In the winter the park can sometimes receive a dusting of snow that makes it look magical, much like an enchanted forest.

 

To say that Chico and the surrounding community loves its park would be an understatement. Community groups act as guardians, tending to the park's areas requiring special care. Clean-up days are held regularly, as are meetings to discuss the park's stewardship.  Picnics, gatherings and numerous special events are held in the park regularly with many such as the Bidwell Classic (half marathon) celebrating 30 some years.

 

One of the great cultural events held annually in Bidwell Park is Shakespeare in the Park. Produced by the Ensemble Theatre of Chico, the season usually occurs from June through August and includes approximately one Shakespeare play each month. Held in the Cedar Grove, the play usually starts around dark (8 p.m.) A bicycle path accesses the grove in which guests are encouraged to ride their bikes to the play. The cost usually ranges from $10 - 20.  Call: (530-891-1382). Location: Shakespeare in the Park performances take place at Cedar Grove in Bidwell Park (Chico, California), off 8th Street, between Parkview School and the Chico Creek Nature Center.  Highway 99, take 8th Street exit (Route 32). Turn east on Route 32 and immediately left on Fir Street, which turns into 8th Street. Parking is available at Cedar Grove and along 8th Street.  ensembletheatreofchico.com

 

Many sources are available for information on Bidwell Park. Our favorites include the city website, www.ci.chico.ca.us and Friends of Bidwell Park website at friendsofbidwellpark.org.

 

 

 


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