Best of Boise: Biking the Foothills

From easy to burly, discover the best mountain bike loops in Boise’s backyard trails.

Mountain Biking Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

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Boise Foothills mountain biking
Boise Foothills mountain biking Photo: Jesse Weber

Description

Boise has earned its reputation as a trail town, thanks in no small part to the ever-growing mountain bike community. Local riders have played a big role in advocating and expanding the city’s Ridge to Rivers trail network, which currently features more than 190 miles of trails open to bikes. Boise has, in fact, received the IMBA’s gold-level designation as a ride center, awarded for exceptional access and community support of mountain bike trails.

Of course, this distinction has a lot to do with the city’s location as well. Boise sits at the edge of the plains and at the foot of a mountain range. The flat urban streets dead-end at the base of vast grassy hills, with a pine-cloaked crest high above. Connecting it all is a web of singletrack and dirt roads, offering a wealth of riding opportunities with spectacular scenery.

Boise’s hills are predominantly made of clay-heavy soil––nicely compactable but also highly erodible. This means smooth riding when it’s dry, but a mucky mess that’s easily damaged when wet. As signs at the trailheads insist, “If you leave a track, turn back!” Therefore late spring through fall is the typical season for trail riding in Boise, when the tread is firm and fast. But additional variety can be found in better-draining granite sands, and in upper elevations where the dirt is loamy and more stable. Therefore a complete tour of Boise trails will include cruiser flow at the lower elevations, techy rock gardens in the mid foothills, and swoopy track through the trees up high.

To help find your ideal rides, we’ve compiled this guidebook of recommended loops, including all difficulties and a variety of locations. The map reveals concise pockets of trails in the lower foothills, and a broader network climbing into the upper elevations. In general, you’ll find lots of moderate loops close to town and the bigger, burlier rides going outward and upward. Simply tap on a route for details, and explore the map to find more variations you might create. You can then check current conditions online at Ridge to Rivers before you head out.

Routes included

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