Outdoors Blog

Peggy’s Trail hike illustrates value of easements in Foothills

The valley tucked into the Foothills includes a scenic creek.
The valley tucked into the Foothills includes a scenic creek. ccripe@idahostatesman.com

This is the latest in our “Discover the Boise Foothills” series of blog posts exploring different trails. On many of those trips, we’ll be joined by an expert who can provide some perspective on the land that has become one of Boise’s most popular and valuable assets.

This week: Peggy’s Trail (and the private landowners who make the trail system possible)

Previously: Introduction, Hillside to Hollow (and rare plants), Corrals (and dog issues), Watchman (and the multi-agency Foothills partnership), the Hulls Gulch owls

Much of the Ridge to Rivers System originally was established by trespassers.

And many of the people who owned that land have worked with the city of Boise to legitimize those trails.

Such was the case with the 2014 agreements between the city and Grossman Company Properties, which allowed Ridge to Rivers to add 26 miles of scenic and strategically important trails to the system. The key additions: Peggy’s Trail, Sweet Connie, Dry Creek and Shingle Creek.

The cost for the trail easements? Nothing.

“From a safety perspective and a conservation perspective, it made sense at this time to take steps working through the city to ensure the use is being managed responsibly,” said Tom Bobo, the Eagle-based development manager for Grossman Company Properties. “By improving the trails and defining where those trails are, you avoid some of the erosion issues and impacts on the land and also create a safer environment. It was either that, or try to shut down the access, which no one wanted to do.”

The city of Boise has spent millions of dollars acquiring private land in the Boise Foothills to build the trail system and preserve open space. But it has spent just $15,000 on easements with seven private property owners that allow trails to cross land that remains in private hands. Most of the easements have been donated.

“Donated easements across over 11,000 acres have provided a backbone for this trail system and consistently provided key linkages to public lands,” said Sara Arkle, the Foothills and open space senior manager for Boise Parks and Recreation.

To illustrate that point, Arkle and Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway led me on a hike deep into Grossman property on Peggy’s Trail. The trail was named after Peggy Grossman at the request of her son, company president John Grossman. Sam Grossman, Peggy’s husband, founded the company.

It’s one of Arkle’s favorite walks in the Foothills, with stunning views of the Boise Front, abundant wildflowers and a beautiful creek crossing. As dry as the Foothills often look from the Treasure Valley floor, the creeks are some of the best features of the trail system.

“You wouldn’t be able to see them unless you have conservation-minded families who are willing to share them,” Arkle said.

A bridge provides a dry way to cross the creek. Chadd Cripe ccripe@idahostatesman.com

Peggy’s Trail runs for 4.7 miles. It connects to Sweet Connie, a 6.1-mile trail that descends from the Stack Rock complex to the lower half of Bogus Basin Road.

Bobo is eager to ride the improved Sweet Connie.

“The erosion and cupping of the trail were so bad in the upper section that it was pretty much unrideable,” he said. “Now that the trail has been improved, it’s this huge connector that is much more user-friendly from the Stack Rock system. You can bomb right back down into town.”

Peggy’s and Sweet Connie cross the 3,284-acre Daniels Creek property on the west side of Bogus Basin Road and north of Cartwright Road. The city received a permanent, 12-foot easement for recreational, non-motorized trails. The property is the largest contiguous private land holding in the Foothills.

Dry Creek and Shingle Creek run through the Grossman property in the Upper Dry Creek watershed east of Bogus Basin Road. The deal for free, permanent easements across 3,300 acres of land included a partnership with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley to improve habitat for the native redband trout.

Dry Creek is a 7-mile trail. Shingle Creek is 4.2 miles. They can be combined into a loop that runs all the way up to Boise Ridge Road.

“This (deal) was the linchpin to opening up the whole Front,” Holloway said. “It was 15 years ago that we started having discussions with representatives of the Grossman family.”

Buying the land wasn’t much of an option. Boise has nearly exhausted its first $10 million levy to preserve land in the Foothills and voters have given the city another $10 million.

“It really would have taken a whole other levy,” Holloway said. “... They said, ‘We’ll give you an easement and it will be permanent and we won’t charge you a dime.’ ”

One reason the deal was made, Holloway said, is the success of the Ridge to Rivers partnership between the city, BLM, Ada County, the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game.

“When you look at what we’ve been able to accomplish with the Grossman family here in Daniels Creek and over in Dry Creek, it’s really nothing different than what we’ve been able to accomplish with some of the long-term families in the city of Boise that are willing to donate land and resources to the city of Boise for park development because they trust the city to be good stewards of that property,” Holloway said. “Not just doing a first-class job of development, but also a first-class job of maintaining it. If our Ridge to Rivers system were in shambles, I guarantee you the Grossman family was not going to sign a perpetual trail agreement with us.”

doug and sara1
Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Recreation, and Sara Arkle, Foothills and open space senior manager, hike along Peggy’s Trail. Chadd Cripe ccripe@idahostatesman.com

The Daniels Creek property still is used for cattle grazing.

Development remains a possibility on that land. Grossman Company Properties founded Hidden Springs and is the developer of the mixed-use Eagle River project in Eagle. The Grossmans have owned the Daniels Creek property since 1978.

Even if the land is developed, the trails will remain.

“There’s been some studies done on the feasibility of development on the land back there,” Bobo said, “but there are no imminent plans.”

Trail users on Peggy’s, Sweet Connie, Dry Creek and Shingle Creek should be aware that they are on private land and need to stay on the managed trails.

“People here in Boise have a pretty good sense of that,” Bobo said, “that it is private land and it’s a relationship that should be respected and appreciated to a certain extent. Part of what makes doing something like this easier is the knowledge that the people of Boise are pretty smart when it comes to trail use.

“... If you look at a Ridge to Rivers map prior to these trails being an official part of the system and look at a map that shows the system now, it’s just amazing the connectivity it’s brought to the Foothills. There was a gaping area in the center that now has been connected.”

Getting there: Go north on Bogus Basin Road and take a left on Cartwright Road. After a few miles, park at the Cartwright Trailhead located on the left side of the road. Peggy’s Trail begins on the other side of the road. We did a 5.6-mile, out-and-back hike on Peggy’s. It was largely downhill on the way in and uphill on the way out, with a total of 650 feet of climbing.

Up next: TBD.

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