Thursday, March 19, 2020

Go for a walk, run, hike, bike ride close to home to refresh the soul!

Cool granite rock formations can be seen on the way to Mt. Kepros, one of the Boise Grand Slam Peaks.
Leslie Gulch  in the Owyhee Canyonlands
Hi all,

It's pretty surreal to realize we are in the midst of a global pandemic with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Many forces outside of our control are affecting our lives and communities for coming weeks, months -- no one knows how long. All of the health and safety advice to lay low, stay close to home, avoid large groups of people, etc., seems wise.

We are fortunate to live in Idaho, where we have lots of open spaces, public lands, public access, and extensive trail systems close to home. In a way that perhaps we have never really thought about before, these places should be safe refuges from not only the coronavirus but any other contagious diseases for that matter. 

My recommendation at this time is to maybe spend some of your extra free time to invest in your personal health and fitness and mental well-being right now by getting out on a walk, a hike, a bike ride, maybe even an early spring camping trip to get some fresh air and Vitamin D from pure sunshine. These options seem like healthy choices to me if you go with your friends and family in small groups of less than 10 people.

The Idaho Statesman featured an outdoors article this week recommending the same thing with doctor's approval. 

Mt. Cervidae affords great views of Lucky Peak Reservoir and the Boise National Forest
Where to go?  

My local hiking guidebook, Boise Trail Guide, features 95 hikes and trail-runs close to home. Everyone has their go-to favorite places to hike, but Boise Trail Guide helps you branch out and try something new.

The book also is organized by challenge and difficulty, starting with over 15 flat Greenbelt sections from Eagle to Lucky Peak and other flat walks. And then we increase the fitness challenge with a wide variety of 15+ "Easy Mountain Trails," 25+ "Moderate Mountain Trails," 25+ "Strenuous Mountain Trails," and 5 "Epic Mountain Trails."

Most of the trails in the book are snow-free, but the higher-elevation trails would be places where you could go snowshoeing or backcountry skiing.

Two of the Boise Grand Slam Peaks would be great choices right now when the trails are dry -- Mt. Cervidae and Mt. Kepros. See previous posts for details. Keep a leash handy for your dog because there could be deer or elk in those areas in the greater Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

Talk about social distancing ... the Owyhee Canyonlands, by definition, are remote with solitude pretty much guaranteed. My guidebook on The Owyhee Canyonlands: An Outdoor Adventure Guide details 55 hiking and biking day trips in the Owyhees, plus ideas on camping and tips on roadside points of interest along the 100-mile Owyhee Backcountry Byway.

Snake River canyon looking down at Swan Falls Dam, a key access point
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey Area, Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park would be excellent choices right now for hiking, biking, sight-seeing and just hanging out looking for birds during the spring nesting season.

I wrote about some choice mountain bike rides last week, but another perfect choice is to simply get out and ride the Boise River Greenbelt ... maybe try some sections that you haven't done before or go back to some of your favorites. The Eagle Greenbelt loop is one of my favorites this time of year because of the opportunity to see bald eagles, great blue herons and cormorants in a large rookery near the Boise River Wastewater Treatment Plant on the south side of the river.

Cartwright 3 Summits Loop always delivers!
To up the ante, try jumping on your road bike and start building your mileage for the spring/summer riding season. I've actually been sneaking in road rides mainly on the Cartwright 3 summits loop all winter long, logging that ride maybe once a week in between trips to the mountain for alpine skiing. Biking makes for stronger ski legs, and skiiing top-to-bottom thigh-burning runs makes for stronger biking legs. All good!

My full color road cycling map for the Treasure Valley, the Boise Road Cycling Guide, provides details on more than 30 road rides throughout the valley, plus some a la carte Canyon County rides such as the scenic Lake Lowell loop and the Gem County ride, Big Freezeout-Little Freezeout Loop. 

Other helpful map resources include the Ridge to Rivers interactive trail map and the Boise Trails online site. My books/maps are available at Bandanna (Boise Trail Guide), Idaho Mountain Touring, Boise REI,, and

This is a time when you can do more exploring on your own with these information resources close at hand. Have fun!
- SS

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