Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steve is on hiatus during hunting season ... will return after the snow flies and ski season begins

Hi all,

Because of the hunting seasons going on, I'm going to take a break from my weekly tips between now and when the snow flies. I'll be back with winter tips after we get some snow.  Let's hope we get some precipitation soon! Is it going to be an El Nino or La Nina winter?

In the meantime, take heed of my post last week regarding hunting seasons and wearing bright colors in the backcountry ... it's a smart safety measure.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Be careful when hiking, biking on public lands during hunting season; wear bright colors

Hunting season is upon us. 
Hi all,

General deer season opened on Wednesday, and that means a lot of hunters will be out in the woods with high-powered rifles pursuing mule deer and white-tailed deer throughout the state.

Deer season will run from Oct. 10-24 in many parts of Idaho, and in some units, it'll run from Oct. 10-31. General elk season opens Oct. 15 in McCall and the Sawtooths, and it opens Nov. 1 in Unit 39, in the Boise River drainage. Elk season continues for several weeks, depending on location. In Unit 39, it's over on Nov. 9.

And then special weapon seasons continue, including seasons for hunters using muzzle-loader rifles and seasons for cow elk, antelope, moose, mountain lions, black bears, etc. If you'd like all the details go to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game web site and check out the big game regulations. The hunting seasons are set up according to big game unit. It'll take a few minutes to figure out the regulations ... they are very complicated to say the least.
Blaze orange vest for your dog. 
My point in bringing this up is that non-hunters who want to continue hiking and mountain biking activities in our national forests or BLM lands at this time of year should be aware that hunting seasons are going on. Watch out for hunters in the woods and wear bright colors on your person (think blaze orange) to avoid getting shot. Sad but true, hunters have killed or wounded people by mistake, thinking they're a game animal. Hunters also might shoot a dog by mistake. So be sure to put some blaze orange on your dog(s) to protect them.

So, you may wonder, where can I go hiking or biking in the next several weeks and not worry about co-mingling with hunters?
  • Ridge to Rivers trails in the Boise Foothills will be a good bet. The roads and trails in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, including Trail E heading up to Lucky Peak, will have deer-hunting activity going on. Ditto with the Boise Ridge Road. You'll see road hunters up there and hunters on ATVs.
  • State Parks. Ponderosa State Park in McCall will be a safe haven (no hunting is allowed in the park), and so will places like Bruneau Dunes State Park and Three Island Crossing State Park
  • Owyhee Front, BLM land. Trails on the front side of the Owyhees should be safer than the trails in the Owyhee backcountry, where there will be many deer and antelope hunters scattered about. Try the Wilson-Reynolds Creek Loop in my book, the Boise Trail Guide
  • The Sawtooth Wilderness has some hunting activity going on, but not so much compared to the White Clouds and other parts of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Day hikes in the Sawtooths should be a safe bet, but dress warm! 
  • Popular trails close to McCall and trails near Ketchum-Sun Valley also should be a good bet. 
  • As the fall colors begin to kick in, it's a good time to take a scenic drive. The Statesman recommended a number of scenic drives in their outdoor tips this week, and VisitIdaho, Idaho's tourism office, offers a great listing of scenic drives in Idaho. 
Coming up on Saturday, Oct. 20, is an opportunity to help work on the Harrison Hollow Nature Trail, next to Bogus Basin Road and Healthwise. Volunteers will be working on the trail from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up online through REI. They need a total of 40 volunteers, and there are only 10 spots left! 

Because of the hunting seasons going on, I'm going to take a break from my weekly tips between now and when the snow flies. I'll be back with winter tips after we get some snow.  Let's hope we get some precipitation soon! Is it going to be an El Nino or La Nina winter?

Have fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Enjoy super-smooth new greenbelt pathways in Marianne Williams Park in East Boise

Aerial view of Marianne Williams Park (looking east to west). 
Hi all,

This week's tip focuses on a new park in East Boise called Marianne Williams Park that has a number of sweet new pathways to enjoy, including a brand new super-smooth 1.5-mile greenbelt section from Bown Crossing to Eckert Road. The park also has a beautiful nature trail along the Boise River.

Below, I'm also highlighting several events coming up, including a two-day ride on the full length of the Weiser River Trail, and a fun, season-ending SWIMBA event.
My GPS tracks on the Greenbelt and Nature Trail loop. 
If you've grown tired of riding over the many cracks and bumps on the old greenbelt as you're riding out to Lucky Peak Dam or Discovery Park -- riding parallel to the highway east of Warm Springs Golf Course -- you can take a small detour on the new greenbelt pathway in M.W. Park and enjoy the sweet ride out to the Eckert Road pathway. Then, you head north a half mile and rejoin the greenbelt near Lucky 13, and continue your ride.

I noticed that several roller-bladers have discovered the new pathway, but for the most part, the paths are pretty quiet in M.W. Park because the park hasn't officially opened yet. Boise Parks & Recreation officials say the 70-acre park will open next summer after several buildings and rest rooms have been built and completed. Some landscaping remains to be put in place as well.

Another very cool opportunity for hikers, runners and anglers has been created with a new nature trail in the park. The trail runs alongside the Boise River, on the north side, for more than a mile, and then it joins the paved greenbelt for a half-mile before landing at the Bown Crossing area and the East ParkCenter Bridge. Combine this new trail with the existing nature trail from the Barber Park area, and you have a new 3.5-mile loop that you can enjoy. A Figure-8 loop could be done as well if you're walking or running from Municipal Park out to Barber Park. Or, you could run or walk on the greenbelt in M.W. Park and loop back on the nature trail.

BPR officials say the nature trail will be open to walking and running only when the park opens.

Families with young kids will find plenty of pathways to enjoy on an easy-going bike ride in M.W. Park. Besides the greenbelt pathway, there are a number of wide sidewalks that you can ride on that loop around a large pond and fountain. Cap off the outing by stopping in at one of several eateries in Bown Crossing for a meal and beverage.
Park master plan by the Land Group
Many thanks to the Larry and Marianne Williams family for donating the land for the park. It's a huge addition to the "Ribbon of Jewels" -- the wonderful series of parks that we have adjacent to the Boise River that are tied to together by the Boise River Greenbelt.

If you're ever wanted to ride the whole length of the 84-mile Weiser River Trail, there's a great group ride going on this weekend that presents a perfect opportunity to ride the trail downhill from the north end near New Meadows to the town of Weiser over two days. They're calling it the "October Trek."

Weiser River Trail officials will haul your personal and camping gear to the overnight spot at Mundo Hot Springs,  3 miles north of Cambridge. Mundo Hot Springs is brand new ... a grand opening was held in late September. The photos I've seen make it look very similar to Gold Fork Hot Springs near Donnelly.

The two-day ride will cover a little over 40 miles each day. That's a perfect pace for recreational cyclists of all abilities, and you can enjoy all the sights along the way. Just so you know, the top part of the Weiser River Trail runs downhill as it winds through the Weiser River canyon between New Meadows and Council. But once you're out of the canyon, the trail is mostly flat, even though it runs slightly downhill, you'll have to pedal the whole way. I would rate the difficulty as moderate.

Contact Craig Kjar, event director for the October Trek, at 571-7447 or email

Next week, on Oct. 13, SWIMBA is hosting a member-appreciation event and pub crawl from Joe's Crab Shack to the Dutch Goose and back. Costumes are encouraged! "Classic lounge wear" is the theme. Think Dean Martin. These guys know how to have fun! See you there.