Outdoors Blog

Grab your snowshoes or skis and hit the Foothills to capitalize on rare opportunity

You might only have a few days to take advantage of a rare opportunity: a chance to snowshoe and cross country ski in the Boise Foothills.

Boise has reached a record snowpack.

“I’ve only done it four or five times in the last 27 years,” said Leo Hennessy, an avid snowshoer who is the non-motorized trails coordinator for Idaho State Parks and Recreation. “... This is a treat. I’m skiing every day. Why drive nasty roads when I can do it right here?”

Snowshoeing and skiing is allowed on the Ridge to Rivers trail system.

“Right now, I’d go anywhere,” program manager David Gordon said in a text message. “We have a foot of snow in the Foothills and I’m seeing as many skiers as walkers today.”

[Related: Don’t play on frozen park ponds]

Gordon said he wouldn’t recommend driving out Rocky Canyon Road.

However, there are plenty of places to go that are easier to access.

Hennessy recommends Polecat Gulch and Peggy’s Trail, which are on opposite sides of Cartwright Road. Polecat also is accessible from the end of Collister.

“Go up and over the hill into Peggy’s,” Hennessy said. “That would be a nice place to go. You would probably be the only ones out there.”

[Related: Try cross country skiing for Learn a Snow Sport Month]

Warm Springs and Quail Hollow golf courses are open to snow sports in the winter as long as guests try to stay away from the greens as much as possible, said Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Rec.

Warm Springs is flat while Quail Hollow has many hills to explore.

“(Quail Hollow) is the best place to ski right now,” Hennessy said. “There’s a foot of snow. People are snowshoeing, walking.”

Another place to try is the Avimor development along Idaho 55 on the way out of Boise. The trails open during winter allow snowshoeing, cross country skiing and fat biking. Some trails are closed because of wintering big game, so be sure to check the winter map here.

If you’re willing to drive up Bogus Basin Road, you can snowshoe at the Upper Dry Creek Headwaters or at the Bogus Basin Nordic Center.

I went out Wednesday afternoon on the Homestead Trail in East Boise with my son. We splashed through foot-deep powder for about three-quarters of a mile before turning back, a fun way to experience snowshoeing close to home. We even ran across three deer and what appeared to be an elk, though in the low light and snow it was difficult to get a clear look. It’s important to note that on Homestead dogs must remain on-leash because it’s part of the Boise River Wildlife Management Area. It’s also good to limit run-ins with wildlife. In our case, we walked slowly and quietly back down the hill after seeing the animals.

Playing Outdoors contributor Steve Stuebner and some friends used the ample snow to try something new: skiing from Bogus Basin to Boise. They made it to the Corrals trailhead. Read about their adventure here.

[Related: Where to snowshoe close to Boise this winter]

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Saturday is Free Ski and Snowshoe Day through Idaho State Parks and Recreation. Here’s a preview.