Just an hour north of Sacramento, Butte County is a great place for an outdoorsy getaway with your canine companion. The surprises start in the county seat of Chico, home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, a California State University Campus and Bidwell Park, more than three times larger than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at 3,618 acres. If the weather is warm, start your visit with lunch and beer tasting on the brewery’s dog-friendly patio (you’ll need to enter at the back and may need to wait for a table, so send someone dog-less in ahead of you to ask). Then head for Upper Bidwell Park, where 70 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails and leash-free open areas await. For an all-day hike, follow the Upper Bidwell Park Loop Trail for 9.5 miles, passing features ranging from lava mud flows to forests, watercourses and swimming holes. For a shorter hike, options include the North Rim, Middle and B trails.
Among dog-friendly places to overnight in Chico are Oxford Suites, Heritage Inn Express and Holiday Inn, while restaurants with pet-friendly outdoor seating include Bellachino’s, Celestino’s Pizza, Red Tavern and Sierra Nevada Brewing.
Elsewhere in Butte County, Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir after Shasta Lake, is the county's biggest liquid magnet, offering campsites, marinas, waterfront resorts and many other opportunities for doggie fun. This year, however, drought has reduced the lake to a fraction of its normal size and many facilities are closed. Should El Nino arrive and bring things back to normal, put Feather Falls on your radar screen for late winter or spring. This three-tiered, 410-foot cascade on the Fall River can be seen from an observation deck on the dog-friendly Feather Falls Loop Trail.