BOISE, Idaho — The 2021 Ridge to Rivers pilot trail program is now officially in effect.
Trail crews spent Wednesday adding signs at parking lots, trailheads, and junctions to remind users of the changes.
"We had several people that had not been aware that the pilot program was starting today so it is important to educate today because tomorrow this trail changes," Pete Ritter, Ridge to Rivers ranger, said.
The trail management strategies will be tested in the Boise Foothills through November 1 at these locations:
- Lower Hulls Gulch Trail #29 – On even-numbered days of the month, the trail is closed to all downhill bike travel (open to hikers and equestrians to travel in both directions and open to uphill mountain bikers) for the duration of the pilot. On odd-numbered days of the month, the trail is only open to downhill bike traffic (closed to all other users) for the duration of the pilot. Day one of the pilot is an even day of the month (April 28), so the trail will be closed to downhill mountain bike travel.
- Polecat Loop Trail #81 – All trail users are required to travel in one direction (counter-clockwise) throughout the duration of the pilot. The first half-mile of the trail from the Polecat Trailhead on Collister Drive will remain multi-directional to provide an out-and-back experience at Polecat Reserve.
- Around the Mountain Trail #98 – All trail users are required to travel in one direction (counter-clockwise) throughout the duration of the pilot. This trail is jointly managed by Ridge to Rivers and Bogus Basin.
- Bucktail Trail #20A – A new pedestrian-only trail will be constructed between Central Ridge and Bucktail Trail. The existing Bucktail Trail will be modified and open to downhill mountain bike travel only. Uphill mountain bike access will be via Central Ridge Trail. The Bucktail Trail separation of use won’t start until the new pedestrian-only trail is built by the trail crew in early May. Ridge to Rivers will continue to update users as this process is completed.
"This is a pilot program so I would say first thing, give it a chance. Maybe it will work out better than they expect," Ritter said. "And honestly, this particular alternate day usage here on this trail impacts about two miles of trail in a system that has 200 miles of trail so even though there is a day that you can’t hike here, there are plenty of hiking opportunities."
The best way to receive updates on the trails is through the Ridge to Rivers website or the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page. Volunteer trail rangers will be focused on pilot program trail locations in the coming weeks to answer questions and help educate users about the new management strategies in place on the trails.
As we previously reported, the new strategies were decided after a Ridge to Rivers trail user survey. The program will test directional and separation of use opportunities. Ridge to Rivers asks trail users to be mindful and courteous to all users as the new strategies are implemented.
"We kind of had the perfect storm with COVID and with the growth of the valley last summer, the trails were much more congested, Ritter said. "Obviously, we have multi-use trails so we are trying to limit the conflicts between the different types of users."
Ridge to Rivers staff will be on the trails through Saturday and patrolling during summer.