BOISE — The Ridge to Rivers Pilot Trail Program is coming to an end, and they are asking for the community's input on managing the Boise Foothills trails by taking a survey or attending their virtual public meeting on Wed., Oct. 26.
"People become very passionate and connected to the experience they have on their trails, so we want to make sure that any decisions that we make that are going to be permanent on the trail system have been vetted by the community and they've had the opportunity to engage and provide their feedback," Sara Arkle, Superintendent of Foothills and Open Space for Boise Parks and Rec said.
With more people recreating outside, and with population growth in the Treasure Valley, the Boise Foothills have seen a threefold increase in the number of trail users this past year.
"So that was about one million visits to about three million visits to our trails," Arkle said. "The community has grown and COVID really got people outside more, so if you are a trail user you noticed that. We had been hearing from folks since 2016 that they wanted to try out some different management strategies and these were based on that."
In April, Ridge to Rivers launched a summer pilot program to help manage the trails by separating the directions users can go. The four trails were:
- 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). On odd numbered days of the month, the trail is only open to downhill bike traffic (closed to all other users).
- Polecat Loop Trail #81– All trail users are required to travel one direction (counter-clockwise). The first half-mile of the trail from the Polecat Trailhead on Collister Drive is multi-directional to provide an out-and-back experience at Polecat Reserve.
- Around the Mountain Trail #98 – All trail users are required to travel one direction (counter-clockwise).
- Bucktail Trail #20A – A new pedestrian-only trail, named Two Point Trail, has been constructed between Central Ridge and Bucktail Trail. The existing Bucktail Trail was modified and is now open to downhill mountain bike travel only. Uphill mountain bike access is via Central Ridge Trail.
"The pilot program went really well, better than we honestly expected most folks were interested in following the rules and trying out these new management strategies that they had asked for," Arkle said.
Now Ridge to Rivers is asking users to take a survey on if they would like to see these changes to be permanent on each trail. To take the survey, click here.
"We use that information to communicate with folks and make sure we are casting a wide net and making sure we are getting as many users as possible to participate in the effort," Arkle said. "Their feedback will help guide our decision making."
You can also attend their public meeting where they will answer more questions and get more feedback. The virtual meeting is on Wed., Oct. 20th from 6 to 7 p.m. To attend, click here.
"I really encourage people to enjoy their time out on the trails. Be prepared, and be welcoming," Arkle said. "We have a Happy Trails pledge, and we are really trying to set a culture of inclusivity and kindness on the trail systems here ."