Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve

Public Use of BCCER

Nature Hikes and Observation

All public access is walk-in only from the gated area unless granted access otherwise. Hiking, flower, and wildlife observing are compatible with the educational goal of the reserve. Please use common sense to prevent habitat damage. It is the policy of the BCCER to allow recreational activities that are compatible with our primary goals of preservation, research, and education. There is no drinking water on the premises.

All visitors are asked to read and comply with all rules and guidelines when visiting the BCCER.


Hunting by humans has been part of the reserve ecosystem for at least 3,000 years. Currently the reserve conducts limited, lottery-based, hunt programs for deer and turkey in specific zones only. Success rates, tissue samples and hunter observations provide useful research data. For additional hunting information and application forms, please visit our Hunt Page and our Hunt Dates Page.

Avoid spreading noxious weeds

Invasion and dominance of ecosystems by non-native species is a major cause of loss of global and local biodiversity. The reserve already has major weed problems. Help prevent further problems by following common sense rules: Clean burs and mud from shoes and clothing before entering the reserve. Wash mud from wheels and wheel-wells before driving a vehicle into the reserve. Carry out seeds from any fruits you bring for lunch or snacks.


Removal of any natural or historic object (other than legally obtained game) from its original location within the reserve should be done only as part of an approved research program. See Research Protocol(opens in new window).


While some pets may be as benign as their owners imagine, others terrorize wildlife, destroy habitat (digging, etc.) and transmit diseases that may prove fatal to un-inoculated wild counterparts. Bidwell Park has areas where you can hike with your pets. Please keep them out of the reserve.


Big Chico Creek in the reserve (and most of Upper Bidwell Park) is open to fishing with single-hook artificial lures and zero limit from Nov. 1 through April 30. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. (Refer to CDFW Fishing Regulations). Closure during spring, summer, and fall protects highly vulnerable populations of spring-run Chinook salmon, foothill yellow-legged frogs, and western pond turtles and reduces trampling when riparian vegetation is actively growing.


Swimming at the reserves is prohibited. Western pond turtles maintain a healthy population in the reserve but have been decimated throughout most of their range, including Bidwell Park. Turtles have to bask to get their body temperature high enough for normal metabolism and egg development. They are very shy and will leave their basking perch at the sight of people. Spring-run Chinook salmon over-summer in some pools in the reserve. They don't feed all summer and have limited energy reserves. Fleeing from people uses up those energy reserves, reducing their survival chances. If you wish to swim in the creek, please do so in Bidwell Park and give the reserve turtles and salmon a break.