Make a Trip to the Foothills Trails Your Rite of Spring
Pedaling my mountain bike down the trail and feeling soft dirt under my tires is as welcome as a powder day when I am snowboarding. A bike ride in the foothills is a rite of spring and one I look forward to all season. I ride year-round, but spring is a chance to get out on the trails when conditions are perfect. No muddy trails, ice or sweltering heat and moon dust.
I could easily fill this page with stories about how I’ve enjoyed trails in the foothills. I’ve ridden, hiked, skied, snowshoed and walked my dog on the trails, and even used them to pack out deer and elk during hunting season.
But I would rather focus on what an amazing asset we have in the Ridge to Rivers trail system.
The statistics alone are impressive. According to the Ridge to Rivers website, there are more than 190 miles of trails crisscrossing the foothills from the outskirts of Boise to the top of Bogus Basin. There’s actually more trails because not all foothills trails are part of the Ridge to Rivers system.
The trails provide countless of hours of recreation for Treasure Valley residents, and the fact that they exist in the first place is no accident. Well, technically that’s incorrect. The origin of some of those trails harkens back to decades-old livestock paths, but most were hand-built from scratch or redesigned to make them “sustainable,” which means resistant to erosion.
While trails may look like basic ribbons of dirt, most are designed, built and regularly maintained, which take thousands of hours of work by professionals and volunteers. There’s been millions of dollars worth of labor and materials invested in those trails. The Around the Mountain trail alone cost more than $100,000 to build.
So, don’t take trails for granted, but definitely use them.
Most of the trail networks are north of Boise and stretch from Eagle to Lucky Peak Reservoir all the way to the top of Bogus Basin.
There are wide, relatively flat sandy paths at Camels Back Park; rocky climbs up to Table Rock; twisting, undulating, flowing bike trails at the Eagle/Ada Bike Park; and shady forested trails sprinkled with wildflowers at Bogus Basin.
Find a trail or area that suits your preferences and get out and enjoy them. The easiest way to learn more is to go to RidgeToRivers.org and read about them and see the interactive map.
Trails give you room to roam, explore, ride and relax. While they offer much freedom, they’re not a free-for-all. Trail users should respect the trail etiquette, which is pretty simple. Stay off muddy trails, stay on the paths and walk and ride single file. If you bring your dog, keep it under control at all times and clean up after it. Treat the trails like you would the Greenbelt. Carry a bag and carry out dog poop.
Another thing to note is bikers yield to hikers and runners, and bikers and hikers yield to horses.
Perhaps most important, be a good member of the trail community. Be friendly and courteous to other trail users, and even if they don’t reciprocate, don’t let it bother you.
I also encourage people to be an activist for the foothills trails. You can contribute by donating money, volunteering on trail projects, attending meetings on trail management and development, and more.
But mainly, lace up your hiking shoes or get on your bike and roam. Breathe the fresh air, enjoy the beauty, spot some wildlife, look down at the Treasure Valley and marvel that we have such a great amenity that is free to use and offers such diverse experiences.