Thursday, March 13, 2014

Boise Foothills trails dry up fast, ready for hiking, biking, trail-running; Have fun!

Let the spring riding season begin! Bucktail Trail in Military Reserve 
Happy Puppy on Military Reserve Connector! 
Hi all,

Wow, living on the edge of the desert, it's amazing how quickly the Boise Foothills trails can dry out when we get a combination of wind and sun after all the moisture we had in February.

I checked the Ridge to Rivers web site and trail blog yesterday, and they gave the green light to go enjoy the trails. I went for a quick ride from Camelsback Park, up Owls Roost to Kestrel, up Crestline to Sidewinder Summit, and I was amazed how the trails had dried out so quickly! Like in a matter of a couple days since Monday's soaking rain and hail.

This is exciting to me as I love to get a quick workout in the foothills whenever possible. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. There were tons of people hiking, dog-walking, running and biking in the foothills yesterday evening.

So for this week's tip, I'd recommend getting out on the foothills trails to enjoy a nice hike, dog-walk, bike ride or trail-run. I'll provide a list of recommended loops, starting with some easy kid-friendly routes and building to more challenging ones.

Before you go, pay heed to these words of advice from R2R:

  • Walk, run or ride through the isolated puddles out there if they cover the whole width of the trail. If you go around on the edges, you end up widening the trail. 
  • Be sure to yield to uphill traffic of all kinds. Mountain bikers need to come to a stop when encountering uphill traffic, move off to the side of the trail, see hello, and let people pass. 
  • Be aware that you may encounter some trail sections that suffered significant damage from heavy runoff 3-4 weeks ago. You will see evidence of this on Corrals, Bob's, Central Ridge in Military Reserve and on the Five Mile Creek trail. R2R crews are out there working on repairing these sections or installing water dips or water bars. They are working on Bob's at the present time, and then will move to Central Ridge, Corrals and Five Mile, in that order. 
Now, for the recommended loops. All of these are featured in detail in my books, Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hikes and Running Routes Close to Home, and Mountain Biking in Boise
  • Red Fox-Owls Roost Loop - Rated easy. 2.3 miles total distance. About one-hour travel time on foot. 30-minutes or less for runners and bikers. Great for young kids! Start at Camelsback Park, pick up the trailhead east of the tennis courts. Go up Red Fox and return on Owls Roost or vice-versa. You will need to cross 8th Street by the Foothills Learning Center to complete the loop. Be sure to have your dogs leashed on the sections of trail that require it, and pick up after your pet. 
  • Try the Polecat Finger Ridge Loops - Rated easy to moderate. Long loop is 5 miles; Doe Point out and back is 2.5 miles. 1 hour riding time on a bike; 1-2 hours hiking time. Take Cartwright Road west from Bogus Basin Road over two summits and then watch for the Polecat parking area on the left. This is the main trailhead, but a new one will be built off of N. Collister in the near future. Proceed up the trail to the first junction on right, and follow that to do the Polecat Loop. Go straight if you want to take the shorter route to the top of Doe Point.   
  • Climb Table Rock from the Bishop's House by the Old Pen. Rated strenuous for hikers and runners; Advanced intermediate ride for mountain bikers. Pick up Trail #15 at the trailhead and climb to the top of Table Rock. It's less than 2 miles to the top, but the climb gets progressively steeper as you approach the summit. It's a super-steep granny gear climb on a bike for the last half mile. Once on top, look for Trail #16 on the backside of Table Rock and take that around the quiet side of the bluff back to Trail #15 and return to the trailhead. 
  • Kestrel-Red Cliffs Loop - Rated moderate. Distance is 5 miles if you start from Camelsback Park. Hikers can shorten the route by parking at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center on 8th Street. 600-feet of elevation gain. For this one, you can do the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. To do it the easy way, take Owls Roost or Red Fox to the Foothills Learning Center. Pick up Kestrel Trail, climb Kestrel to Crestline, go left on Crestline and go less than a mile to a left-hand turnoff for Red Cliffs. Follow Red Cliffs on a fun curvy descent back to the Foothills Learning Center. It's a little stepper if you start on Red Cliffs and come back on Kestrel.    
  • Cross-Foothills Loop - This one is best for trail-runners and mountain biking. Distance is about 10 miles. Riding time is less than 2 hours. Running time would be similar, depending on how fast you run. Start by climbing Bogus Basin Road to the Corrals Trailhead 1.2 miles from the stop sign at Highlands School and Curling Drive. Take Corrals to Corrals Summit, descend over to 8th Street, cross the road, and drop into Hulls Gulch. At the Hulls-Crestline junction at the creek, cross the creek and take Crestline almost to the trailhead, and turn left on Military Reserve Connector trail, climb to Central Ridge and descend to the Toll Road trailhead. 
  • Rocky Canyon - Five Mile -Watchman Loop - This ride is still one of my all-time favorites in the Boise Foothills. It's a great workout; the scenery is fantastic on Watchman and Curlew Ridge, and it's a great length for my pointer, Huck. Distance is 10.2 miles from the end of the pavement on Rocky Canyon Road. Travel time is 1.5-3 hours, depending on how fast you ride. Vertical gain is 1,906 feet. Climb Rocky Canyon less than 3 miles to Five Mile Creek Trailhead on the left. Climb Five Mile Creek past the Orchard Gulch junction and you'll come to the Watchman Trail. Most of the climbing is over now, and you can enjoy a really fun ride from here. Follow Watchman to the junction with Trail #6, go left to follow Three Bears Trail on Curlew Ridge to Shane's Summit. Go left and drop out on Rocky Canyon Road, and return to the trailhead at the end of the pavement. 

Jump Creek Road closed temporarily. BTW, I saw that the BLM is doing some construction work on the access road to Jump Creek canyon, near Marsing. This is a popular spring destination, but the road will be closed for repairs from March 24 - May 19, according to an article in today's Idaho Statesman

Steve talks about his outdoor tips every week with Ken and Misty on 94.9 FM The River on Friday at approximately 7:30 a.m. More information about hiking, running, biking and paddling in SW Idaho can be found on Steve's website at


Unknown said...

Great info, thanks Steve

Unknown said...

Great info, Thanks Steve