Following extensive public engagement with hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians, the Ridge to Rivers partnership, led by the City of Boise, is adopting a series of trail management strategies tested in the Boise Foothills in 2021.
The goal of this year’s pilot trail program was to introduce new strategies, guided by public input and industry best practices, on four Ridge to Rivers trails to address increased use, improve safety, reduce user conflict and improve the overall trail experience. Feedback gathered through multiple user surveys over the seven month pilot indicates overall support for the program and the continuation of the management approaches implemented. To view survey results, visit the Ridge to Rivers website.
Directional and separation of use strategies will remain in place on the following trails in the Boise Foothills:
- Lower Hulls Gulch Trail #29 Odd/Even Separation of Use – On odd numbered days of the month, the trail is open to downhill bike traffic (trail closed to all other users). On even numbered days of the month, the trail is open to hikers and equestrians traveling in both directions and open to uphill mountain bike traffic (trail closed to downhill bike traffic).
- Polecat Loop Trail #81 Directional – All trail users are required to travel in the same direction. Once new signage is installed, users will travel clockwise through 2022. This change to the direction of travel is being implemented based on user feedback. Should feedback continue to indicate user support, the direction of Polecat Loop will change annually. Please note, the first half-mile of the trail from the Polecat Trailhead on Collister Drive is multi-directional to provide an out-and-back experience at Polecat Reserve. In addition, the short section of Polecat Loop from Cartwright Trailhead to the lower Doe Ridge Trail junction will also be multi-directional to allow for shorter loops on the north side of the reserve. This change is being implemented based on feedback received during the pilot.
- Around the Mountain Trail #98 Directional – All users are required to travel counter-clockwise. This trail is jointly managed by Ridge to Rivers and Bogus Basin.
- Bucktail Trail #20A Separation of Use – Bucktail Trail is open to downhill mountain bike traffic only. Uphill mountain bike access is via Central Ridge Trail. A new pedestrian-only trail named Two Point Trail has been constructed between Central Ridge and Bucktail Trail for hikers and equestrians.
During a work session presentation about the pilot trail program and final survey results on November 9, 2021, members of the Boise City Council affirmed staff’s recommendation to implement these management strategies on Lower Hulls Gulch, Polecat Loop, Around the Mountain and Bucktail Trails moving forward. You can watch a recording of the presentation on the city’s public meetings YouTube channel. The pilot trail program presentation starts at the 28 minute mark.
“We appreciate the involvement and cooperation of our users as we tested some new things in the Boise Foothills this year,” said Foothills and Open Space Superintendent Sara Arkle. “The Ridge to Rivers Trail System is more popular than ever and as use grows, we are committed to thoughtful management of this incredible amenity, including finding ways to maintain everyone’s desired experience."
In the coming weeks, Ridge to Rivers team members will be updating signage throughout the trail system, in conjunction with updates to our interactive map, to reflect the adoption of these special trail management strategies. User feedback has been incorporated into several new sign designs to increase education and understanding of the changes. Please be mindful of all trail signage and courteous to fellow users when recreating in the foothills.
There are currently no plans to test additional management strategies at other trail locations in 2022. However, the Ridge to Rivers partnership plans to survey users annually to evaluate special trail management approaches and listen to user feedback.
ABOUT RIDGE TO RIVERS
The City of Boise leads the Ridge to Rivers partnership that also includes Ada County, the Bureau of Land Management Four Rivers Field Office, the Boise National Forest and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The Ridge to Rivers Trail System is comprised of more than 200 miles of trails throughout the Boise Foothills. These trails often cross land managed by a combination of partner agencies.