Big Chico Creek originates near Colby Mountain, located in Tehama County, California. The creek flows 46 miles (74 km) to its confluence with the Sacramento River in Butte County. The creek's elevation ranges from 120 feet (37 m) above sea level at the Sacramento River to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) near Colby Mountain, as shown on the Ord Ferry USGS quadrangle.
There are numerous biotic species in the riparian zone and entire watershed of Big Chico Creek. A threatened species of Chinook Salmon make annual spawning runs up Big Chico Creek to the area of Higgin's Hole. Among the wildflowers documented in the watershed is the yellow mariposa lily, Calochortus luteus.