Photo: Theodore Scott

With more roadless land than any other state in the lower 48, Idaho is a phenomenal place for outdoor adventure. Even in the middle of the state’s largest city, you’re never far from hiking and biking trails.

Ridge to Rivers

Boise’s Ridge to Rivers trail system covers the Boise Foothills that rise up to the northeast of the city. There are over 125 miles of mixed-use trails through 80,000 acres of desert.

This video is a good example of what trails look like in the Foothills:

Old Fort Boise Military Reserve

Like many of the trail areas, the Military Reserve park is just outside of downtown Boise. Trails fan out in several directions, but all lead into the hills.

This is a good place to get comfortable with the area. You can combine many of the small loops without getting very far out, or follow one of several trails that go high up the ridge.

Camelsback Park

Follow 8th Street north out of downtown to reach Camelsback/Hulls Gulch Reserve, whose numerous trails overlook Boise. One 3-mile trail is pedestrian only, but there are still plenty of choices for cyclists.

More Options

A few miles southeast of downtown, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary area has a number of short 3 to 5-mile loops.

If you exhaust all the trails close to town, head up to Bogus Basin ski resort 16 miles away, where you’ll find a whole new set of paths. Occasionally, the ski lifts will run in the summer for bikers – check the mountain website for dates.

Photo: Theodore Scott

To experience the most exciting biking Boise has to offer, try the Bonzai,a 17-mile downhill from Bogus Basin to the bottom of the foothills.

When To Go

May through October is the time for riding. The higher elevation on the ridge cools you down and takes the edge off the summer heat.

Be careful to avoid muddy trails in the spring – Boise has a serious problem with riders carelessly tearing up paths.

Map Skills

Trails near Boise tend to branch out – many of the routes in the Boise Foothills are pieced together from a number of different trails. It takes a while to get to know the area, so stop by a local shop for a map and advice. If you’re told to try out a popular loop, double-check its location before heading out.

Preparation

Standard biking etiquette applies – stay on the trails and slow down for other users. Check trail conditions before heading out.

If you want local riding partners check out the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association. For the younger crowd, you can also look into BYRDS – a biking club designed to introduce youth to cycling.

Stop by a local bike shop to gear up, buy Ridge to Rivers map, and ask what trails meet your skill level:
Bob’s Bicycles
George’s Cycles
Reed Cycle

Community Connection

Go around the world with Matador Trips’ article on the world’s 15 most bike-friendly cities.