|Steve at Shane's Summit as the sun was going down last night. |
Happy to see the foothills trails dried up and open for use!
|Central Ridge trail|
|Runners climbing Ridge Crest Trail in Military Reserve|
|Central Ridge near Shane's-Bucktail Jct.|
|Mark and Wendy on Crestline Trail|
A string of bluebird days and brisk winds are drying out the trails in the lower half of the Boise Foothills earlier than normal, and that means instead of getting your workout indoors at a fitness center or the Treasure Valley YMCA, you can enjoy an afternoon outing in the foothills, hiking, trail-running or mountain biking right now! For many of us, that's a big Woo-Hoo!
After skiing two powder days at Brundage Mountain last Friday and Saturday, I completed my weekend by returning to Boise and mountain biking one of my favorite loops in the Foothills, riding from Military Reserve up the connector to Crestline, and then climbing Sidewinder to Fat Tire, and then plunging down Trail #5 to Military Reserve and finishing on the sinewy trail along Freestone Creek.
Except for a greasy spot on Fat Tire near the junction with Trail #5, the trails were dry, and it was a delightful ride. My pointer Huck was happy to be out there, too. We've been riding in the foothills this winter on my snow bike on frozen snowy trails, but it's always great to be riding again in the spring. The word is getting out, as there were hundreds of people out and about in the foothills on Sunday, and every day this week.
The Boise Foothills Trail Conditions facebook page indicates that certain trails are still muddy or greasy and should be avoided, including Peggy's Trail and Polecat in NW Boise, and Rock Island and Garden in the Table Rock area. Keep an eye on that page to report what you're finding when you are out hiking, trail-running or mountain biking or see what other peeps are reporting.
For people who live in areas that are still snow-bound such as McCall or Ketchum/Sun Valley, you might want to pay Boise a visit and enjoy some early-spring outings in our beloved foothills. Maps of the foothills trails are available through Ridge to Rivers and more detailed information is available in my guidebooks, Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking and Trail-Running Routes Close to Home and Mountain Biking in Boise, 65 rides in the greater Boise area.
Dress in layers! Try to time your workout in the heat of the day, and it's been cool, in the 50s. I wear a couple of warm, synthetic layers on top, and I've been hiking/riding in shorts. I pack along a wind-proof shell for the way down. I'm seeing runners in T-shirts and shorts.
Here are four other loops that I'd recommend right now for hiking, trail-running or biking, beyond the Sidewinder-Fat Tire-Trail #5 loop that I mentioned above:
1. Highlands-Corrals-Bob's Loop - 8 miles, rated moderate to strenuous as a hike/run, and intermediate to advanced as a ride. Bob's is a challenging rocky trail, but you can always carry your bike around tricky features. Travel time: 3.5 hours, hiking, 1:40 running, and 1:15 on a bike.
Park at the end of Hearthstone via Braemere in the Highlands. The is the trailhead for Bob's Trail and Highland's Trail. Climb Highlands, which might be shady in the bottom, but will quickly get sun as you rise out of the draw up to Corrals Trail, providing grand views of the North End. It's a little less than 2 miles and 400 feet of elevation to Corrals. Turn right on the dirt 2-track and cruise on a moderate uphill, and then downhill into a creek bottom, a fork of Crane Creek. The trail dissolves into singletrack here. Go through a gate, cross the creek, and then climb to Corrals Summit (turn right at the saddle to reach the top). It's 3.5 miles from Highlands jct. to the summit. Now you've climbed 1,325 feet and you're at the peak of the route. Descend on Corrals for about a mile until you reach the Bob's junction by a hairpin corner. Drop down Bob's, a narrow and rocky singletrack alongside a fork of Crane Creek. In a little less than 2 miles, you'll end up at the trailhead.