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Ride Destination: The Boise Front

by Heath Hiatt
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, April 2011

One of my favorite riding locations in the state of Idaho is easily within reach… actually, much of it is accessible after work during long summer days. The Boise Foothills offer vastly varied riding experiences, from novice rides to incredible twisty pavement to mindboggling technical trail riding. Unfortunately, this area seems to be largely unexplored by many club members. This may be at least partially due to the reputation of difficulty of some of the trails in the area.

The Boise Ridge Road

Idaho Benchmark Map (page 61)

The primary artery feeding the foothills trail system is the Boise Ridge Road. The road itself is a great afternoon or evening ride with scenic vistas of the Boise Valley and fun level 2.5 riding with varying surfaces, some climbs, and possibilities of wildlife viewing. I have seen bull moose, bears, deer and elk along the road. It is accessible from downtown Boise via Reserve Street to Shaw Mountain Road to Rocky Canyon Road. Follow Rocky Canyon Road found in the Benchmark Idaho Road & Recreation Atlas, page 61, F-11 (IRRA), to Aldape Summit. Once at the summit, follow the road to the left, which is the Boise Ridge Road. Just continue on the main road until you are dropped off to pavement on Bogus Basin Road approximately 12 miles later.

Boise Ridge Road between Aldape Summit and the 8th Street Intersection

The road surface is primarily decomposed granite and sand, with some gravel and rocky sections. The road is well maintained most of the year, however ruts from snow melt may be difficult to navigate early in the year. The Ridge Road is also accessible via 8th Street/Sunset Peak Road (IRRA, page 61, E-10) from downtown. 8th Street intersects with the ridge road at the tree line.

Ridge To Rivers Trails

View of Boise from the Boise Ridge Road

The Ridge To Rivers trail system is primarily reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists, however there are two trails accessible on the front side of the Foothills that are open to Motorcycles. Both begin at the same trailhead approximately 4 miles up 8th Street on the right. Follow the post marking Trail 4 from the parking lot. The trail is approximately ATV width but has steep exposure and sandy surfaces. This is certainly a level 4-5 trail, and should only be ridden by experienced riders. The trail includes a small water crossing followed by a steep climb. A T- intersection approximately 2 miles from the trailhead splits Trails 4 and 6. Both are open to motorcycles. Trail 4 from this point on is level 5 material. Within 1⁄4 mile the trail attacks an aggressive slide area (affectionately known as Devil’s Slide) which is steep, rocky and loose. Walking this section of trail usually leads to the discovery assorted broken motorcycle parts including brake and clutch levers, as well as plastic pieces that have been broken off. Caution should be used on this section of the trail.

Devil’s Slide on Trail 4
Trail 6

Back at the T-intersection, Trail 6 follows a winding, sandy, steep path back to Trail 4 just above Devil’s slide. Trail 6 is a longer route but is very fun by ATV trail standards, with no features as difficult as Devil’s Slide. From there, the trails move forward to the tree line. Another intersection 1.5 miles farther up the mountain gives riders the opportunity of returning to 8th Street by taking a left turn, or continuing to the Ridge Road by taking a right turn. Both sections are enjoyable, however the left route occasionally features logs blocking the trail through a small burn area.

Eagleson Summit Trail

long the Boise Ridge Road, approximately three miles northwest to the left past the intersection with 8th Street, Eagleson Summit Trail falls off the backside of the Boise Front to Crooked Summit on Clear Creek Road. The trail is marked as #263 (IRRA, page 61, E-11). The intersection is easy to overlook, despite the sign that marks trail #263 on the left side of the road. After passing the houses near the top of 8th Street, there is a hard left switchback with signs on the outside indicating no motorized vehicle use off marked trails. After this switchback, there is a short uphill section, and the intersection for Eagleson Summit is at the top of this uphill section. Turn right at the small brown sign. There are several small turnoffs near the top of Eagleson Summit. Simply stay on the best-used road to avoid getting lost. The road itself was improved in 2010 and is wide enough to drive a jeep on, however ruts, roots, traffic and sandy conditions should keep motorcyclists on their toes. Continue downhill until an intersection with a major road. You are now on Clear Creek Road at Crooked Summit. A right turn onto Clear Creek Road from Eagelson at Crooked Summit will take riders to Rocky Canyon Road or Highway 21 via Robie Creek. A left turn at this summit will take riders over Clear Creek Summit to Grimes Creek.

Humpty Bump Trail

Humpty Bump

Humpty Bump is a well-used single-track trail on the backside of the Foothills. It differs significantly from Trails 4 and 6 on the front side of the Foothills due to the presence of water and green vegetation. The trail begins just past the houses near the top of the 8th Street and Boise Ridge Road intersection. Follow the Ridge Road northwest (left from the intersection) past the houses. Approximately 1⁄4 mile past the last driveway, there is a sharp right hand switchback. There is a depression on the inside of the switchback into which you can ride. Drop into this depression and follow a small trail at the back. This small trail abruptly ends at a steep rocky slide. This slide can be difficult to ride down, and it is almost impossible to climb up on a dual-sport motorcycle due to recent erosion. For this reason, Humpty Bump should be considered a one-way trail. Ride through the bushes at the bottom of the slide and hang a left. There are few intersections on this trail, but staying on the best-marked path will bring you to an intersection with Eagleson Summit just above Crooked Summit. The trail is tight and narrow with a lot of whoops, but it is not overly difficult. It rides through a creek bed that has year around water flow. The creek bed is very overgrown with leaves and weeds. There is one small section with exposure, so be careful here (right Phil?).

Daggett Creek Trail

Daggett Creek Trail

By far my favorite stretch of trail in the Foothills is Daggett Creek, which I came upon accidentally one day while following logging roads that split off the Boise Ridge Road. The beginning of Daggett Creek Trail is near Shafer Butte on an unmarked, degraded logging road. You can approach the intersection from the Bogus Basin side by riding approximately 3 miles after leaving pavement at which point you will come to the trailhead, a lazy right hand turn along the Ridge Road. A small logging road splits off to the left. There is a bermed area at the center of this Y-intersection. Follow the logging road downhill. The trail will eventually narrow and drop you into Daggett Creek, which also happens to be Daggett Creek Trail through this section.
Daggett Creek Trail

Riders stay in the creek for what seems like an eternity (but realistically is only about 1⁄2 mile) due to the slick rocks, ruts and logs. It feels like there’s a bone jarring obstacle every couple of inches. The creek will eventually give way to a large meadow with a small motocross-style play area containing a few jumps and berms. The trail curves sharply uphill to the left at the entrance of this meadow. This section of trail is extremely steep and, by the end of June, is badly chopped up from traffic, leading to “poof dust” that is twice as deep as your axle on climbs that are at a 35% incline. Once at the top of these climbs, a network of trails zigzags throughout the back of the Foothills. This trail is typically run from Clear Creek UP to the ridge road. The primary entrance from the Clear Creek side has recently been marked as private. The bottom side of the trail is accessible from two different very hard to find trailheads. My best advice is to run the trail early in the year when it can be run from top to bottom, or to ask someone like Ryan Cantrell or myself to guide you up there. I’m sure if you’re willing to ride it one of us would love to take you up!

Bogus Basin Road

It may go without saying, but Bogus Basin Road offers a curvy, stomach turning ride from downtown Boise to Shafer Butte. Simply follow Harrison Boulevard across Hill Road and you’re there. Be careful for sand in the corners. You may follow Bogus Basin Road around to the back side of Shafer Butte where an extension of the Boise Ridge Road leads to Hawley Mountain Lookout, Horseshoe Bend, Placerville and any number of other wonderful riding locations. Pine Creek Road connects to this section of the Boise Ridge Road to Grimes Creek Road.

This is just a small list of the roads and trails available in the Boise Foothills. Dozens of different loops can be connected with varying levels of difficulty from level 2 to level 5. There are loads of adventures ready to happen on a Sunday afternoon or any day after work… right out your back door! I’ve been exploring the Foothills via motorcycle for the last several years, and I’m constantly finding new trails and roads. Hopefully, this will act as a primer to get you out exploring as well.

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