The Cottonwood Trail is a little contradictory.
It's fairly close to Boise, but it has a rugged, backcountry feel.
You're in a steep canyon, but the trail is fairly mild in the lower sections.
It passes through a ponderosa forest before breaking into an open canyon that has been burned in recent years. There are lush brush patches regrowing, which makes it a magnet for wildlife. Keep your eyes on those steep slopes and you are likely to see deer, and possibly elk. The trail goes about 7 miles to the Forest Service Road No. 203. You're probably not going to make it that far in the winter because you will hit deep snow.
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HOW TO GET THERE: Take Idaho 21 to the Middle Fork of the Boise River Road. Take it 16 miles to the turnoff to Forest Service Road No. 377. The trailhead is 2 miles up the road.
Open to: Hikers, mountain bikers and horses .
Ideal for: Year-round hiking near Boise.
Trailhead elevation: 3,678 feet
Destination elevation: 7,515 feet if you go all the way to Thorn Creek Butte.
Difficulty: Easy if you stay in the canyon, harder if you climb to the butte.
Out and back or loop: Out and back.
Wildlife you might see: Deer, elk , squirrels, grouse.
Notes: You're likely to hit snow in the winter, but the first mile or so should be passable.
Information: Boise National Forest map or U.S.G.S. topo maps.
If you've hiked or biked a trail you'd like to see featured, call Niki Forbing-Orr at (208) 377-6446, or e-mail outdoors@ idahostatesman.com. Articles and photos submitted to The Idaho Statesman may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.