Why we love the Boise foothills – and why we’re not going there right now.

I just finished an article for the Boise Valley Economic Partnership about our foothills and the advantages of living and working in a city with such great trails so accessible to all. If you want to see my enthusiasm for our local trails (which the boys and I can walk to from our house), check it out!

In Boise, we are having an unseasonably warm winter with little snow. As a result, the trails, which normally stay frozen most of the day and are sometimes covered with a layer of the white stuff, are turning soft and muddy as soon as the sun hits the hills and temperature rises above freezing. While sandy trails are a pretty good bet even when it warms up, the trails with a lot of clay in them get really muddy.


Ridge to Rivers, the local partnership that manages all the trails no matter who owns the land they run through, have a winter trail use guide on their site, that I encourage all Boiseans to check out. I’ve been talking to the boys about why these rules are put in place. The trails are gradually widened and vegetation trampled as people work around muddy and rutted sections. Drainage works done by the trail crews can be flattened or crushed and stop working, which can cause long term damage to the trails that we might feel the effects of in the spring and fall. The deep prints left in the mud freeze over when the temperature falls again at night and are a danger to those using the trails properly during the early morning hours when they are still hard packed.

These winter trail rules are in the etiquette section of the Ridge to Rivers website. They are not enforceable rules, but their goal is to allow all of us to use and enjoy the trails in our foothills and to sustain the foothills themselves for future users. It’s important to me that the boys can see that good stewardship of the land sometimes involves us giving up on what we want in the short term, for the good of all the citizens of Boise in the long term. Red has been learning about responsibility with his school counselor recently, and I’ve been glad to connect those lessons to the responsibility we have to manage our resources. While no one can force us to stay off the trails, we need to think about something bigger than just ourselves and our desires on that particular day.

The Greenbelt is still beautiful and as the paths are paved, it’s a great choice when the foothills are off limits! While we always prefer being in the more natural environment of the foothills, the boys are learning to make the responsible choice right now.


Have you talked to your kids about winter trail use in the foothills? Did you realize we had a problem? If you’re interested in learning more, check out Ridge to Rivers website where you can get a daily trails update on which ones are safe to use.


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