The Guardians Trail in Bidwell Park is not your typical mountain bike ride; it is one of the most exposed rides one might ever take. This trail follows the upper edge of the Chico Canyon on the South side, filled with sweeping vistas and precipices it will not disappoint the adventurer. Anyone afraid of heights should avoid the Guardians Trail and those without advanced bike handling skills should leave the bike at home.
We parked at The Five Mile Recreation Area with no idea of what was to come. I made the mistake of not researching this ride before taking it, and what started as a leisurely ride in the park turned into a Braveheart adventure for my wife. Somehow I had it stuck in my mind that Bidwell Park was the Sherwood Forest of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood and not the Canyons of Cliffhanger. I kept thinking it would get better but it just kept getting worse. Luckily she expects my supposed adventures to take a turn for the worse. I made another big mistake in the choice of direction; we went up the Guardians Trail and down the Anne Bidwell Trail, and we should have gone the other way. The Guardians Trail is a great trail to ride if your technical skills are advanced but would be a fantastic hike otherwise.
Once we made our way through The Guardians Trail, we went down the 10 Mile Road to the Anne Bidwell Trail for the ride back. The Anne Bidwell Trail is an adventure in itself for the novice rider but experienced riders will eat it up. If we hadn’t just come off of The Guardians Trail, I would have thought it had some exposure and vistas, but it pales in comparison to The Guardians Trail hundreds of feet above it.
The Anne Bidwell Trail has several great opportunities to take in the gorge cut by Big Chico Creek, when you see the gorge I recommend taking the time to check it out. The Anne Bidwell Trail has a few miles of fun singletrack downhill as a reward for the hard work to get there. There are several steep climbs on The Anne Bidwell Trail going out and an even bigger surprise when you are forced to ascend back on to The Guardians Trail to get out. Then, of course, one must descend the steepest section of The Guardians Trail.
In all this ride was 14 miles long with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. The easiest part of this adventure is getting in and out of the car. If attempted, have good gear, wear safety equipment, be in great shape, and keep a positive mental attitude. The Guardians Trail is incredible but not to be taking lightly; most rides are firecrackers, and this one is dynamite.
Route: The Guardians Trail
Activity: Mountain Bike
Distance: 14.01 miles