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Early Spring is a Great Time to Ride Low and Mid-level trails in the Boise Foothills

By mid-March in the Boise area, the weather has warmed and people are out hiking, trail-running and biking in droves. With every ride, I feel my legs getting stronger, my lungs have greater capacity, and my pointer, Huck, can pretty much run forever.

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Here are some recommendations for dynamite hikes, trail-runs and bike rides in the Boise foothills. The tips come from my trail guides, Mountain Biking in Boise and Boise Trail Guide. It’s important to focus on the mid- to lower foothills trails in the early spring. The upper trails and the Boise Ridge Road are still snow-bound. The trails in the mid- to upper foothills, such as the Watchman Trail, are still wet and greasy in some places, so it’s best to wait for them to dry completely. Before you hit the trails, check out current trail conditions on the Ridge to Rivers website.

  • Military Reserve Short Loop – 2 miles, less than 1 hour hiking time. Easy, with a short hill. Here’s a shorter tour for families and small kids. Start at the Toll Road Trailhead off of Mountain Cove Road. Go up the Toll Road Trail less than a mile to a junction. Go left and climb up to the initial summit of Military Ridge. Turn left and descend on a singletrack trail leading to Freestone Creek Trail over by the dirt road. Turn left on Freestone and return to the trailhead.
  • Seaman’s Gulch Double Loop – 3 miles total. 1+ hours hiking time; 30-45 minutes running time; 30 minutes riding time. Easy. Take Hill Road west in Boise to the Seaman’s Gulch/Hidden Springs right-hand turnoff. Go right and follow Seaman’s Gulch Road to a nice paved parking area and restroom next to a large water tank. Take the Valley View Trail #111 to the right, and then take the first left on Trail #110 to Phlox Trail #112, turn left and return to the trailhead for a one-mile short loop. Now go back on Valley View, and keep going out to the true “valley view” viewpoint provided by the trail, hanging above the Boise Valley. The trail loops around to Phlox and returns to the trailhead.
  • Cross-Foothills Ride (Intermediate; strenuous in places) – 10 miles. 2 hours riding time. Strong intermediate. Today, I rode up to the Corrals Trail (trailhead is 1.8 miles north of Curling Drive on Bogus Basin Road), rode Corrals to Corrals Summit, and then rode downhill on Corrals and Trail #1 over to Hulls Gulch. Then I took Crestline to Military Reserve, and dropped out on the Freestone Creek Trail in Military Reserve near Fort Boise. The hardest part of the ride is climbing to Corrals Summit (3 miles uphill from trailhead, 1,200 feet of vertical gain). Then it’s mostly downhill to Military Reserve, with a few uphill sections in between. Fun ride! Hardy mountain trail runners would enjoy that route as well.
  • Crestline-Hulls Loop – 7.25 miles. Moderate. 2.5 hours hiking time; 1.5 hours running time; 1.25 hours riding time. Intermediate. Start from Camelsback Park in Boise on N. 13th. Find the trailhead behind the tennis courts. Climb on Owls Roost and Kestrel to Crestline. Follow Crestline to the Hulls Gulch Junction. Turn left and descend on Hulls Gulch. It’s rocky and uneven in places. When you reach the 8th Street trailhead by the Foothills Learning Center, turn right, cross 8th Street, and finish the ride on Red Fox Trail, which leads you back to Camelsback Park.
  • Variations on Crestline-Hulls Loop – Advanced. Ride the loop in reverse, or climb Hulls. It’s a challenge, but fun! Another favorite of mine is to start at Camelsback Park, climb Hulls to the Crestline junction, ride Crestline back to the Sidewinder trailhead, climb Sidewinder, come down Trail #4 to the Hulls Crestline junction, and descend Hulls and Chickadee Ridge back to Camelsback.
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Please see the Ridge to Rivers map or check out my books for more hiking, biking and trail-running possibilities in the Boise Foothills.

If you’d like more detailed information, you may purchase digital color files of individual hiking, biking and paddling trips on my web site for .99 cents each or the whole book as an e-book. See more at www.stevestuebner.com.

Have fun!

Reposted with permission from Steve Stuebner.  Photos by Steve Stuebner unless noted.

Steve Stuebner is a Boise-based blogger, author and outdoor enthusiast.  He loves being outdoors, hanging out in the mountains, and exploring new places and outposts in the Idaho backcountry.

Trip Tips

  • Attend the Foothills Learning Center’s Sunset Series on the second and fourth Wednesdays from May through July to hike and learn about the area’s wildlife and vegetation. The Center also hosts spring and summer Second Saturday events to get kids excited about the foothills environment.
  • If you’re hiking or biking with little ones, remember to manage your expectations. You may only make it half-way down the trail, but stopping to look at frogs and bugs is what being outside is all about, right? Pick trails with fun features like boulders, tree groves, creeks or lakes to keep kids engaged.
  • Most foothill trails have no shade, so wear sunblock and bring lots of water. Make sure you bring enough water for the dog, too!
  • Who moves out of the way on shared trails? As a general rule, hikers have the right of way, and downhill bikers yield to ascending bikers.
  • Dogs are allowed off leash on many foothills trails. Please check this list before setting Spot free. Off-leash dogs should be within 30 feet of you; please don’t allow them to dig in the hillsides or chase wildlife.
  • None of the trails in the Ridge to River Trail System meet ADA standards, but you might find that many are wide and flat enough for wheelchairs. The Boise Greenbelt offers a paved surface, and there’s a wheelchair-accessible parking lot at Shoreline Park near Ann Morrison Park.

Other Trails of Interest

Foothills Learning Center and the Grove/Owls Roost Trails

Length: .25 to 2+ miles, 30 minutes to two hours (depending on your pace). Difficulty level: Easy and flat. The Foothills Learning Center has a quarter-mile “Story Trail” that features a nature-themed story told on reading platforms. The trail begins by the fence on the right side of the Learning Center parking lot. To extend your hike, veer off the Story Trail loop about halfway through towards the Grove Trail (Trail #38). On this foot-access-only trail, your kids can spread out and explore without worrying about mountain bikes. Look to the right once you’re on Grove Trail for a pathway down to a creek for lots of splashing fun (bring extra dry socks!). Continue on the Grove Trail about a mile and walk back, or loop back toward the Learning Center on the connecting Owls Roost Trail (Trail #37). The Learning Center has a large yard with tree swings and picnic tables, so plan to relax with a lunch before or after your hike.

This is a sponsored post. Enjoy reading about Steve’s Idaho biking adventures.

Published on April 6, 2015