Outdoors Blog

Where to find fall colors in the Boise Foothills

One of the highlights of hiking in the Boise Foothills is finding the beauty that you’d never know was there otherwise.

Fall is a perfect example. In the places where creeks bring snowmelt to the valley in the spring, you can find pockets of trees turning a variety of colors in October.

The yellow blooms of rabbit brush and purple blooms of aster add additional scenery.

“I think it makes it sweeter that you have to go looking for it,” said Sara Arkle, who is the Foothills manager for the city of Boise, “and it kind of brings the vastness of the Foothills down to the small scale. You can really appreciate the tree in front of you or the leaves in the creek, taking a minute to be appreciative of where you are.”

Arkle took me to one of her favorite fall spots, Dry Creek — a recent addition to the Ridge to Rivers system. Ridge to Rivers has completed a new connection to a larger parking area on Bogus Basin Road that now serves as the primary entry point for the trail. The new trailhead is three curves north of the traditional trailhead, which has much less parking.

Peggy’s Trail, which connects to the other side of Bogus Basin Road at the same parking area (and to Cartwright Road at the other end), is another good choice for fall.

Others include Around the Mountain at Bogus Basin (the colors come out earlier there), Five Mile Gulch off Rocky Canyon Road, Lower Hulls Gulch just past the Foothills Learning Center and even the Cottonwood Creek/Toll Road loop at Military Reserve, a short walk from Downtown Boise.

Arkle drives along 8th Street near the Lower Hulls Gulch trailhead to her office.

“The golden leaves are just twinkling in the early-morning light,” she said.

Fall also is an opportune time to visit the Foothills because the trails don’t attract as much traffic.

“It feels quieter,” Arkle said. “It’s easier to get out and be by yourself.”

Dry Creek is an easy hike but does have snakes and poison oak. We hiked 2.35 miles to the confluence of Dry Creek and Shingle Creek, with about 250 feet of climbing. There’s another 210 feet of climbing on the way out.