Who knew there was a Seed Orchard in Chico, California? Anyone? I certainly had no idea what a seed orchard was, much less that there was one in Chico, California. That is, until I scrolled across a video posted by @explorebuttecountyca this week:
As a lifelong Butte County resident I had never heard of this place. So, this Sunday, we took the opportunity to take the kids and explore this hidden gem. Turns out the Chico Seed Orchard is part of the Mendocino National Forest and is 209 acres designated to plant breeding, research and introduction for different plants all around the world. It is also a place to preserve two of our areas most common trees: Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs. There happen to be seed orchards all around the State! They have a secondary function of recreation-which was exactly why were were there.
First of all, this place is literally tucked away in South Chico behind an industrial area and between several homes. You park outside the chain link fence surrounding the area and walk in to the facility. They have a short hiking trial that meanders alongside Camache Creek. There are no shortage of picnic tables and benches to sit at, making for a great environment should you want to escape into the trees for a bit. The water was swift, cold and intense; probably because of the intense snow pack we have up in the Sierra’s right now.
The path is paved; however, the trees themselves are quite overgrown, making for a beautiful and peaceful walk. We encountered several groups while we were out there, mostly having a stroll and watching the water, just like us. While we encountered many different types of trees along the walk, it was difficult to ascertain their unique features because of the overgrowth. I found that aspect of the walk beautiful. Nature overtaking nature as if it were going to go back to its original form one way or another.
The kids’ favorite was the large bamboo growing right behind the Ranger’s station (which was a rather adorable main house and outbuilding). Of course we stopped and did our best tree poses in the bamboo, while Jason zenned out on a bench carved out of a log, while watching the water just roll on by.
It took us about an hour to walk the whole path and to check out some of the orchards that were clearly designated for tree production. We saw lizards, birds and squirrels everywhere and the place was so quiet. As we were leaving several groups had entered the park with food, clearly intending to spend a quiet Sunday with the trees.
More information on the Chico Seed Forest can be found HERE.