South Rim Trail is a 4.3 mile out and back trail located near Chico, California. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking and mountain biking.
For my first true hike I enjoyed it very much. Had some challenging spots but again I am a beginner at hiking. I am 52 and my 27 year old son ( who trail runs ) was with me. We went in 3 miles and came back out. Took 2 hrs 53 min. Definitely will hike this one again.
This is a great trail, whether going up or down. The only big obstacle is what is known as "Tennis Ball Hill". This is basically a BIG fall line of about 200 yards that is very rideable going down, but very difficult and almost impossible to ride going up. Still, it's just a 5 minute hike in an otherwise fantastic trail. As with most trails in Bidwell Park, a full suspension bike isn't necessary, but it sure makes things more enjoyable due to the rough terrain. The other nice thing about this trail is that there are fewer people on the south side, so it's more secluded and peaceful.
Starting from the parking area on Chico Canyon Road, you ride a wide double track for about 1/2 mile. This will take you into a clearing that ends in an olive grove, and this is where the real trail starts. This first section is very steep, rocky and technical, but also very fun after you ride it a few times. This steep technical section takes you along a very precarious trail on the edge of the canyon for a great view of the creek 100 feet below. After clearing this area, and a bit more uphill, you get to the infamous Tennis Ball Hill. This is a really fun ride down, just try to ride it, and don't slide it, which is very easy to do.
The remainder of the uphill climb is very mild, consisting of easy to ride singletrack. It takes you past Bear Hole, which is a great place to stop for a dip in the summer. After this the trail hugs the south side of the canyon for some great views looking back to Chico. You will ultimately come out on Ten Mile House Road, which is a rough double track 4WD that is not open to the public. At this point you have three options:
1. Turn around and go back the way you came up (some nice downhill, but you have to hike up Tennis Ball Hill).
2. Ride up Ten Mile House Road to Guardian's Trail. This is a pretty tough leg burner, but it's only a bit over a mile and Guardian Trail is THE best downhill in the park.
3. Ride down Ten Mile House Road, take a single track trail to your left, cross the creek, and pick up the road on the other side. Obviously, this is not possible in the winter or spring due to high and dangerous waters. If you ride the park road it will take you up a short climb where you will start to see trailhead signs for various trails in the park.