Thursday, February 28, 2019

Five destinations close to home for hiking all-weather trails in greater Boise area

It's fun to look for birds, ducks and waterfowl at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in west Boise.
Wendy is a bird expert, so it's cool to learn about songbirds when you go on a walk with her. 
Dogs have a great time in Harrison Hollow, chasing each other in the dog-friendly reserve.
The Harrison Hollow trail is one of the most popular all-weather trails in Boise.  
Hi all,

Well it's been a wet and soggy February in Boise ... they're calling it "Februburied" in the mountains, and I'm sure many people have seen the pics of people's homes getting buried in snow in Cascade, McCall and Wood River Valley areas ... quite the epic month in terms of precipitation.

The weather is forecast to clear this weekend. Sunshine is forecast in the Boise area on Friday-Monday, with high temperatures in the mid-40s and lows in the mid-20s for the beginning of March. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to soak up some sunshine!

My outdoor tip this week focuses on five-plus destinations where you can walk, trail-run or perhaps even mountain bike on all-weather trails in Boise and the Eagle areas. These are trails that have been graveled for winter or mud-season use or they are sandy, graveled trails naturally. All of these trails are featured in my Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. Hint: I will give away a free book on 94.9 FM the River Friday morning with Ken and Deb at about 7:40 a.m.

While you're out enjoying these trails, watch for birds and wildlife. After Feb. 1, birds of prey and even crows begin engaging in courtship flight, which can be really cool to see as the males and females try to impress each other prior to mating. Songbirds are moving back into the valley after migrating south, so you'll start seeing robins, red-winged blackbirds, gold finches and other songbirds on your outings.

Overview of one of the ponds at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve. The area doubles a stormwater runoff filtering system. 
Now, for the destinations with all-weather trails:

1. Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve - This is a great walking destination in west Boise off of Chinden and Marigold, McMillan and Maple Grove. Running is OK here, but no bikes. Wendy and I went there yesterday and counted 20 species of birds and ducks in an hour. You'll hear the familiar call of red-winged blackbirds as you walk into the 44-acre reserve, and there are multiple species of waterfowl in the ponds surrounded by cat-tails and wetland vegetation. We saw Canada geese, northern shovelers, common mergansers, common coots, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup, buffleheads, and great blue herons in the ponds or on the shore next to the ponds. Also saw several species of sparrows, lesser goldfinches, Oregon juncos, and house finches. This is a great place to see wildlife and enjoy a casual walk while doing so. The trails are sandy and graveled for all-season use. Bring your binoculars and camera! Note: No dogs are allowed in the park to benefit the wildlife.   

The general scene in the Harrison Hollow gulch ... the trail is easy for all abilities. 
2. Harrison Hollow all-weather trail - This is a great place for dog-lovers to take a walk and let your dog run around and play with other dogs. The trailhead is next to Harrison Hollow restaurant and Healthwise off of Bogus Basin Road. The all-weather trail goes for about a mile. The trail up the ridge spine to the east of the hollow is quite sandy and qualifies for all-weather use most of the time. Please pick up after your pets while you're out enjoying Harrison Hollow. Harrison Hollow Trail #57 (see trail on R2R interactive map) 

The trailhead in Eagle Island State Park is by an old dairy farm, with the Boise Front in the background. 

Huck sniffs for birds on my walk in Eagle Island State Park. Trails are easy and scenic. 
3. Eagle Island State Park - The river trail along the north and south channels of the Boise River are sandy and rocky, so this is a nice place to go for a walk during mud-season. People are also tubing and boarding on the snowy hill provided in the park for those activities. You can do a 5-mile loop by hiking both channels of the river inside park. Watch for bald eagles, Great blue herons, mallards, geese, kingfishers and other species on your walk. Bring your binoculars. Hopefully you have an annual parks pass ($10 per vehicle per year) to avoid the day use fee! The park is west of Eagle on Idaho 44. Follow signs to the park.

Fabulous quiet place for a walk or trail-run in East Boise. 
4. Bethine Church Riverwalk + walking trail to Barber Park on the south side of the Boise River - Take a beautiful walk going east from the Cottonwood Apartments off of River Run and ParkCenter Boulevard out to Barber Park. It's about 3 miles one-way. You can shuttle a vehicle out to Barber Park or do an out-and-back (recommended). Watch for bald eagles, Great blue herons, wood ducks, mallards, geese, kingfishers and other species on your walk. Keep track of your species. Carry binoculars, a camera, water and snacks.

Nice quiet spot for reading or contemplation. You can walk your bike through the area, but no biking is allowed. 
5. Try a sample of the all-weather trails recommended by Ridge to Rivers in the Boise Foothills.
The Shoshone-Bannock trail is over at the foot of Castle Rock and Table Rock and the others are over by Camelsback Park in the North End of Boise. 
·         Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Trail #19A  (Table Rock area)   
·         Red Fox Trail #36 (Camelsback Park area) 
·         Gold Finch #35 (Camelsback Park area) 
·         Owls Roost #37 (Camelsback Park area) 
·         Hulls Pond Loop #34 (Camelsback Park area) 
·         The Grove #38 (Camelsback Park area) 
·         Red-Winged Blackbird #35A (Camelsback Park area) 

Please give the rest of the Ridge to Rivers trails a break until the trails dry out in warmer and drier weather yet to come! See latest conditions on the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page. 

Have fun! 
- SS  

No comments: