Snow isn’t usually the focal point when the highest elevation of the hike is 764 feet.
But it was on this last Saturday of February. The bitter cold storm that inundated all of California brought the white stuff to sea level.
While there were splotches of snow along the trail, the bulk of what was of interest was in the distance, enshrouding the coastal range.
Mother Nature is one interesting creature.
While the 16 of us from Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventurers were bundled up to ward off the 40-something degree temps (who knows what it was with the wind chill), a few wildflowers were holding on for dear life. Field marigolds, blue dicks, and dicots dominated the landscape.
A couple more weeks and it is sure to be a carpet of color here in the green grasses that are set against the dark basalt rock.
Black Butte Lake near Orland was formed in 1963 when Black Butte Dam on Stony Creek was built. When full it has a surface area of 4,460 acres.
“The dam reduces flood risk for the surrounding communities and provides irrigation water to agricultural lands immediately downstream of the dam,” according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
On our 5.2 mile hike we barely touched the numerous trails. After all, the lake is 7 miles long and has a shoreline of 40 miles.
After crossing the paved dam we headed up a mostly single-track route that was a mix of hardpack dirt and basalt rock. Our destination was the top of Black Butte.
The views here are stunning. Even more amazing, though, is one would not have to set foot on any trail because the vista from the parking lot is outstanding.
Once at the top of the butte, instead of going back the way we came we headed over the other side onto what really wasn’t a trail. I would not need to do this route again because of the hidden rocks under the grass and slickness of the wet ground.
Still, we were thrilled to be out on the blustery day seeing terrain most of us had never visited before.