Outdoors Blog

Six new Foothills trails are in the works, including the first for mountain bikes only

At least six new trail projects are in the works in the Boise Foothills — including trails in the Military Reserve, Stack Rock, Hidden Springs, Dry Creek and Avimor areas.

Plus, there’s a plan for the first Ridge to Rivers trail built exclusively for mountain bikes and expansion of an overcrowded trailhead.

Construction on one of the new trails could begin this fall. Others are planned for 2019, 2020 and beyond.

Ridge to Rivers will hold an open house Wednesday to update the public on its projects. The open house is from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Boise Depot. The Bureau of Land Management will provide information on five trail projects and the trailhead upgrade as part of its approval process for projects on land it controls. BLM approval is needed for all but the Stack Rock and Red Hawk projects listed below.

Here are the projects being considered:

Hawkins Trail: The city of Boise in 2016 acquired the former Hawkins Ranch on the west side of Bogus Basin Road about halfway to the ski area. Plans call for up to a 6.2-mile loop, a new trailhead and potentially a connection to Sweet Connie. The connection would require an easement from a private landowner that hasn’t been secured, but the loop could be done on city and BLM land, said David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers manager.

“It’s a beautiful area,” he said. “We don’t want to over-trail it. We want to be careful how the trails are developed there. There are some great wildlife values in that area, especially during the winter.”

The hope is to build in 2020. Funding hasn’t been secured.

Curlew Connection: Curlew Connection would be a new link between Watchman and Femrite’s Patrol. It would be a relatively level, non-motorized trail. There is an existing, motorized connection nearby that is difficult for non-motorized users, Gordon said. That trail would be retained.

The new trail would combine with Watchman and Fat Tire Traverse to create a lengthy traverse across the Foothills.

“It would allow for a really long, mid-Foothills traverse,” Gordon said. “It’s been something that people have asked about ever since I got this job.”

The new connection has a wrinkle, though. It’s within the historic Military Reserve area where weapons practice was conducted.

“We have to have the route surveyed by Army Corps of Engineers contractors for unexploded ordinance before we can build,” Gordon said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done this. ... But they feel strongly it should be done, so it will be done.”

Gordon hopes to begin construction late spring or early summer in 2019. The funding is in place.

Mountain bike trail: A long quest for a “purpose-built,” downhill-only mountain bike trail has settled on a 1.6-mile route in the Crane Creek drainage. The trail would begin on the west side of Eighth Street Extension and connect to Bob’s Trail. If BLM signs off, Ridge to Rivers has an easement with a private landowner to build the trail, Gordon said.

The location was his third choice. He expects an intermediate-level trail.

“We’ve been really trying pretty hard to get one of these,” Gordon said. “Because we’ve run into a number of different road blocks, we’ve come up with the analogy that we are kind of like a duck. At face value, it’s, ‘What are you doing?’ But underneath the water, we’ve been swimming like crazy, running down so many different ideas and talking to landowners and seeing what we can do.”

If BLM approves the project, Ridge to Rivers will apply for a grant through the state’s mountain bike license plate program. The hope is to begin construction in spring 2020.

Stack Rock improvements: The new trailhead parking area for Stack Rock is about a month away from completion, said Brett Barry, assistant forest engineer with the Boise National Forest. The new trailhead, which will be paved, is on the right side of Bogus Basin Road as you drive up the mountain and a little past the pullout that is being used now. Eventually, a small trail will be added to connect the parking lot to the trailhead, which is across the road. Initially, users will have to walk or ride 200 yards or so on the road.

The $475,000 trailhead was funded through the Federal Lands Access Program. It has about 35 parking spaces, including four for horse trailers, and a toilet.

The next step is to build a new trail from the parking area to the junction of the Stack Rock and Sweet Connie trails, entirely upon Forest Service land. That will create a loop option but, more importantly, provide a permanent trail. The Trail to Stack Rock that provides access from Bogus Basin Road to Stack Rock is primarily on private land with a revocable easement held by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley. That trail was closed for nearly a year for logging in 2016-17.

“It’s something we would like to do to ensure we have access into the future with the investment of the trailhead,” said Danelle Highfill, recreation program manager for the Boise National Forest.

Construction on that trail could begin as soon as next year, Gordon said.

Ada County’s new trail system: Ada County could begin construction this fall on a new trail system on its Red Hawk property, which is north of Hidden Springs. The county owns 263 acres and has plans for up to 4.5 miles of trail in the first phase, which requires approval from Hidden Springs. The trail system would cross Hidden Springs property and connect to Red Tail.

A second phase, which is included in BLM’s public notice about upcoming trail projects, could connect to the Avimor trail system.

Ada County has funding for the first phase of Red Hawk trails in its fiscal 2019 budget, said Scott Koberg, the director of Ada County Parks and Waterways. The first trails would be loops beginning at Red Tail and returning there. The trails would be added to the Ridge to Rivers system, of which Ada County is a partner.

The Red Hawk trails likely would have seasonal closures to protect wintering deer and elk, Koberg said. They could be served by an existing, under-utilized trailhead on Dry Creek Road, he said.

“The sight lines are really tremendous on the Red Hawk property,” Koberg said. “If you make this connection (to Avimor) ... you could go all the way from Bogus into Hidden Springs and then all the way into Avimor, on a fully connected trail system. It’d be pretty awesome.”

Peggy’s Trail connection: A short connection is planned from the lower Dry Creek trailhead on Bogus Basin Road (the one without a parking lot) to Peggy’s Trail. There’s no timeline for construction, which would require BLM approval and two private landowner easements.

Cartwright trailhead: The Cartwright Road trailhead that serves Polecat Gulch and Peggy’s Trail is too small to handle the use. A proposed project would expand parking from 8-10 vehicles and one horse trailer to 30 vehicles and two horse trailers. An accessible concrete parking stall and vault toilet with accessible concrete route would be added.

“The trailhead is too small for the amount of use that it gets now that Peggy’s has been constructed,” Gordon said. “Even with this project, on a busy day, it’s still going to overflow.”

There’s no timeline for construction.