One of the many reasons that people love living in Boise is its bounty of recreation opportunities. From the Boise River to the Boise Greenbelt, there’s a little something for everybody. The Ridge to Rivers system in the Boise Foothills is a major contributor to this, providing over 200 miles of trails for dog walking, all levels of hiking and mountain biking, running, horseback riding, taking in views of the city, or observing the varied wildlife in the area.
“The Ridge to Rivers trail system is unique in that it provides seamless connectivity across the public lands in the Boise Foothills,” said Sara Arkle, Foothills/OpenSpace superintendent/senior manager for the Boise Parks and Recreation Department. According to Arkle, the land is provided through a partnership between five public land management agencies: Ada County, the City of Boise, Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service. It is through the combined effort of all that users have access to this free, local resource.
There are numerous areas to explore the over 200 miles of trail depending on what your recreation goals are: head to Camel’s Back and Hulls Gulch Reserve for views and easy walks, hikes, and biking loops. For dog walking, Hillside to the Hollow Reserve might be more your style. For a fun family outing, visit the Oregon Trail Reserve to get a dose of history or the Military Reserve, which has beautiful fall colors. For experienced hikers and mountain bikers, check out the Shafer Butte area which has cooler temps or the Table Rock area, known for its stunning sunset views.
“Whether you want a day-long adventure or a quick 30-minute hike, it is all available within a mile of the downtown core,” Arkle said. Visit ridgetorivers.org for full descriptions of each area within the system.
In an effort to support preservation of open space in the Boise area, voters approved a $10 million levy in 2015, part of which has recently gone to purchasing 325 acres in the Boise Foothills with the hope for future trail connectivity to the Ridge to Rivers system.
To keep the Ridge to Rivers trail system an accessible, free resource, good stewardship and trail care are of the utmost importance. Ridge to Rivers employs one of the only full-time trail crews in the country. With over 70 years of trail experience between them, this group helps maintain this beloved trail system. To encourage trail users to be mindful of their actions and to show respect for other trail users, the crew has launched their Happy Trails campaign. Those who wish to be good stewards of their local trails can sign the “Happy Trails Pledge” at ridgetorivers.org/etiquette/happy-trails-pledge/.
“This type of accessibility is unique and part of the fabric of Idaho,” Arkle said. “It helps to support healthy citizens and is a free and inclusive amenity for users of all ages. It takes community effort and dedication to create this trail system and many people have worked over many decades to build this special trail network.”