Thursday, January 14, 2021

Boise Foothills trails are wet and slurpy - 7 alternative destinations where you can avoid the mud!

It's fun to look for birds, ducks and waterfowl at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve in west Boise. 

Hi all,

Well it's been wet and soggy in Boise lately, and even though we're going to be drying out over the next week to 10 days under a High Pressure weather system, most of the Boise Foothills trails will continue to be muddy in the afternoons when temperatures rise well above freezing into the mid-40s.

Photos from the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page tell the story. Come on people!  

Please! If the trail is muddy, try one of my alternative destinations below ... 

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.

Overview of one of the ponds at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve.
The area doubles a stormwater runoff filtering system. 

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 or dogs. 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. 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 trailhead in Eagle Island State Park is by an old dairy farm,
with the Boise Front and Bogus Basin the background. 

Huck sniffs for birds on my walk in Eagle Island State Park. Trails are easy and scenic. 

2. 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. 
3. 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. 

Try the all-weather trails recommended by Ridge to Rivers in the Boise Foothills.

4. Mountain Cove Trail in Military Reserve Park. The trail runs for a little less than a mile parallel to Mountain Cove Road, next to Freestone Creek. The trail also connects to Central Ridge, Bucktail, Shanes and more in the Military Reserve complex, but those trails are likely to be muddy right now, so don't count on doing a big loop.     

5. Red Fox - Owl's Roost - a 2.2-mile loop from Camelsback to the Foothills Learning Center, suitable for all abilities. Hulls Grove Trail next to Owl's Roost is another all-weather alternative in that area.

Hulls Ponds from Red Fox Trail near Camelsback Park 

6. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Trail #19A  (Table Rock/Castle Rock area) Flat and easy trail for all abilities. 

7. Red-Winged Blackbird #35A (Camelsback Park area) - Flat and easy trail for all abilities. It runs from the Hulls ponds to Chickadee Ridge through a wetlands environment. 

Have fun! 
- SS 

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