3 Bidwell Park Swimming Holes to Beat the Heat

What Chico lacks in terms of manageable summer temperatures, it makes up for with all the swimming hole options at centrally located Bidwell Park. Taking a summer trip to Chico and not jumping in somewhere at Bidwell Park would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. We’ve outlined some of our favorite Bidwell swimming spots:

1-Mile (Sycamore Pool)


Located in more accessible Lower Park, 1-Mile swimming area is a concrete-reinforced, man-made pool “cut” into the river. Sycamore Pool rests right near downtown Chico, and provides a great atmosphere for families.

Imagine a local neighborhood pool except this one is located on a river. Surrounding grass, tables and concrete walkways contribute to a fantastic picnicking environment. Just pull up to adjacent parking areas, and in minutes you’ll be beating the heat.

Bear Hole

Bear Hole is all about convenience. Park and you’re practically in the water. The only drawback to the natural pool is that it tends to get incredibly crowded especially on weekends and holidays. Swimming there requires a very short, slightly steep hike. Once you’re near the water, you’ll see many large rocks that make for prime cannon-ball platforms.

Taking the main road through Upper Bidwell Park, after the road turns to dirt, you will see a large and visible parking lot on the right-hand side. You can’t miss it.

There’s a slightly stronger current at Bear Hole than at 1-Mile, but deeper sections are calmer and slow moving. Close by porta-potties and other amenities make spending a family day at Bear Hole a fun and easy feat.

Salmon Hole

Found in Upper Park, shaded Salmon Hole is a cult favorite among many Chico locals. Getting to the swimming spot necessitates a somewhat difficult, steep climb with no cement stairs or railings. Young children and those with injury problems may have trouble safely completing the hike to Salmon Hole.

To find the largest and most relaxing swimming hole in Upper Bidwell Park, you can follow the main road in the park and find a the parking lot just past Bear Hole on the right. A visible trail will lead you down to the water. The trail is a little rocky but can be accessed by most people.

Due to an older group of visitors, you’re likely to see college students hanging out on the pebble beach at Salmon Hole drinking beer. The views from the Bidwell swimming locale, Salmon Hole’s relative dearth of visitors (during weekdays at least) and its huge swimming area have contributed to its cult status.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


  1. I live in flatland, Texas.

    The most wonderful days of my life were spent on this beautiful Mountain Snow stream.

    In my mind, I always return there.

    God bless Northern California.

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