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Wilson Creek provides mountain bikers with a different place to ride in the Treasure Valley

Posted at 12:02 PM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 14:09:54-04

Wilson Creek is a recreation area managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it's located 25 southwest of Nampa in the Owyhee front.

Wilson Creek

This area provides mountain bikers with a different experience than the popular and very convenient trails in the Ridge to Rivers system in the Boise foothills, it's where the Canyon County Mountain Bike Team practices.

"We can go miles and miles without seeing anybody," said Angela Jolley, one of the team's coaches. "We don’t have to stop for somebody coming uphill like we do when we come out to the foothills, it’s just a great place to ride."

I made two trips out to Wilson Creek in the past week to check out the trails, once I got on the trails I didn't see another human until I got back to the main parking lot.

The Upper Parking Lot

Wilson Creek features several different rides, but I elected to try out Bingo, one of the most popular trails marks about the halfway point of the 17.1 mile Wilson Creek Tour, it can also be shuttled, but I elected to ride up the main road to get the uphill out of the way.

This trail features a lot of flow, rolling hills and a some tech, if you continue on the loop it leads into Jacob's Ladder, this trail is more technical and as an intermediate mountain biker I had to walk my bike through a few sections of this trail.

Bingo Trail

Jacob's Ladder leads into China Ditch, which I discovered by accident on my first ride and probably ended up riding it backwards, but as I said before I didn't see another person out on the trails.

China Ditch leads through a picturesque canyon, but the trail is very exposed with steep a steep drop-off, if you struggle with heights you might want to skip this one, but the trail is relatively flat which made me feel comfortable riding it.

China Ditch

It's a pretty easy ride back to the parking lot once riders emerge out of the canyon, but while this trail system is one of the only non-motorized areas in the Owyhees, mountain bikers aren't the only user group.

Horseback riders and hikers also use these trails, it was actually the equestrians who spearheaded the creation of the parking lot decades ago, etiquette requires mountain bikers to dismount from their bike if they encounter a horse on the trail so the horse knows you are a person and doesn't get spooked.

I've done a story with the equestrian riders who ask mountain bikers to use the lower parking lot on busy days so they have room to park their horse trailers.

"It’s part of who I am," said Karen Steenhoff who has ridden in this area since the 1980s. "Its a way to make friends, see the scenery and see wildlife it’s a real important way to get outdoors and have fun."

Wild horses are common in this area as well as other animals, the BLM asks people to be aware of the wildlife and they want to use a collaborative approach to taking care of Wilson Creek.

Climbing the Hill by the Parking Lot

The parking lots have restrooms, but that is pretty much the only amenity so people need to bring a lot of water, shade is scarce and people need to pack out what they take in, I was really impressed because I didn't see any litter or garbage in the area.

Wilson Creek also offers a good place to ride in the winter when the trails in the foothills become muddy, the trails at Wilson Creek tend to dry out quicker.