Hiking & Trails

Cottonwood Trail (Easy to difficult)

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.

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.

Length: Varies.

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.