Final survey on Boise trails pilot program is ending. Here’s what’s next for Foothills

·3 min read

The final user survey for feedback on changes to Boise Foothills trails closes on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. The survey is the latest in a series from trail management organization Ridge to Rivers as it weighs options to reduce crowding and hiker/mountain biker conflicts on popular trails.

The agency implemented user schedules and directional travel on a handful of Foothills trails in late April. Ridge to Rivers officials said they’ll work quickly to determine whether the changes should be made permanent or scrapped.

“The goal is to be able to transition into permanent management — or to remove the strategies if that’s what people want to do — by the end of November,” said Ridge to Rivers director David Gordon in a phone interview.

Gordon said that if feedback supports adopting the pilot program permanently, changes on three of the four affected trails — Bucktail, Lower Hulls Gulch and Polecat Loop — will need to be approved by the Boise City Council, because they’re on city property. The fourth trail included in the pilot program, Around the Mountain, is at Bogus Basin and will not need city approval.

In a public meeting last week, Gordon said Ridge to Rivers is still open to tweaking the existing trail rules, which designate the direction of travel on Polecat and Around the Mountain, and alternate user groups between hikers and downhill mountain bikers on Lower Hulls Gulch. Gordon said the agency has heard feedback about the direction of travel on Polecat Loop and could alternate directions, potentially changing the route each year.

Trail users who want to provide feedback on the survey can find it at RidgeToRivers.org.

Upgrades, restrictions could be coming to more trails

Gordon said other changes could be on the way for the Ridge to Rivers system, which includes more than 200 miles of trails across land managed by multiple different agencies, as well as private property.

“We are in the preliminary stages of next year possibly converting Eagle Ridge trail and loop to all-weather,” Gordon said.

That process includes covering the native soil — much of which is clay-heavy and prone to erosion when wet — with a combination of topsoil and road mix. Ridge to Rivers already has several all-weather trails, including Mountain Cove in the Military Reserve, where Eagle Ridge is located.

Gordon also said a new trail is expected to be finished next summer. Hawkins Loop, a 6.2-mile route off of Bogus Basin Road near Sweet Connie and Chukar Butte trails, is about one-third complete.

Ridge to Rivers could also expand some of its dog on-leash regulations in the Lower Hulls Gulch area. Gordon said the agency is looking to implement rules requiring dog owners to keep their dogs leashed 200 feet past the trailhead on all trails starting at Lower Hulls Gulch.

Gordon said that rule was supported in the agency’s 2016 trail management plan but was never implemented. The goal of the rule is to keep dog owners aware of dog waste near the trailheads and encourage them to pick up after their pets.

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