WILSON, Idaho — The Wilson Creek area provides a place for hikers, bikers and horseback riders to roam in one of the only non-motorized areas in the Owyhee Front.
However, fueled by COVID-19, the growing population in the Treasure Valley and an more mountain bikers hitting the trails, this area 25 miles south of Nampa has seen a big increase in usage.
"I started here in the early 80’s and have been riding here ever since," said Karen Steenhof who was riding her horse named Riley. "The equestrians were the ones who developed this parking area, we started it and I don’t know what I would do without it."
Horseback riders have their concerns because they feel like they've been pushed out of the Boise foothills and they don't want that to happen at Wilson Creek.
"We enjoy the bicyclists, we like them," said Steenhoff. "But this winter everything changed, the number of users skyrocketed."
Wilson Creek provides a different experience for mountain bikers in the Owyhee Desert, and the area is more accessible in the winter because the trail system stays dryer than the foothills.
The Bureau of Land Management manages this area and they want to bring the different user groups together to make sure that all the user groups can enjoy the Wilson Creek area.
"We are working on a collaborative approach between all of the different user groups who want to come together on what the current issues are and how to resolve those in the future," said Donn Christiansen who has helped manage lands at the BLM for 30 years. "How do we set everyone up for success?”
Christiansen believes the first step is educating the public on packing out trash, knowing there are wild horses in the area and respecting the land and each other in the Wilson Creek area.
When it comes to using the trail system everybody is required to yield to horseback riders, and mountain bikers are also required to yield to hikers, that same system is used in the Boise foothills.
“It is understanding those rules before you come and also know you are coming out into the mountains," said Christiansen. "There aren’t a lot of services out here, make sure you have a full tank of gas, make sure you have plenty of water and make sure you have a good communication plan."
Wilson Creek remains a go-to spot for equestrian riders to enjoy something they love with their horses.
“It is part of who I am, it is a way to make friends, see the scenery and see wildlife," said Steenhof. "It is a really important way to get outdoors and have fun.”
The BLM told us one thing mountain bikers can do to help is to park at the lower parking lot first because there is more room for horse trailers at the upper parking lot.