Boise Mountain Biking: A Multitude of Trails and Attractions [Ride Like A Local]

The foothills of Boise contain a multitude of trails. Photo: Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ride Like a Local is a podcast and article series dedicated to exploring the world’s best mountain biking destinations through the eyes of the riders who call those places home. We’ll learn about must-see trails and the groups that maintain them, as well as where to find pizza and beer after the hike.

Wooded, Idaho is best known for its blue football field and baked potatoes. But it’s also a fantastic mountain biking destination. The city of 240,000 is perfectly situated in a river valley at the foothills of the foothills, providing its residents with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

There is more of 200 mountain bike trails in and around town with a combined total distance of nearly 400 miles. That’s an impressive number of trails. No wonder Boise is ranked among the happiest cities in America and one of the best cities in America for young professionals.

For more insight into what makes Boise a great mountain biking destination for cyclists of all skill levels, I reached out to Boise resident and former nationally ranked single-speed racer Shea Anderson and John Curtis, senior vice president and general manager of Fahgren Mortin.

Why Wood?

ATV Boise Idaho
Trails like this are easily accessible from downtown. Photo: Boise CVB.

According to Anderson, Boise’s biggest advantage as a mountain biking destination is access to trails. “From downtown Boise you can be on a single lane in minutes.” Boise has large amounts of single-track trails available for cyclists in residential neighborhoods throughout the city.

“Once you are on the Boise Ridge to Rivers Trail System you can go from town to Bogus Basin Ski Areaand beyond.”

The Boise River Greenbelt runs through downtown, allowing bike access to all of Boise’s major attractions, as well as connecting cyclists to its local singletrack. Photo: Boise CVB.

In fact, visiting cyclists can stay at a downtown hotel and use their bikes to access many of Boise’s trails and attractions, thanks to the Boise River Greenbelt, a nearly 25-mile-long multi-use trail that follows the Boise River through town. Many trails branch off from here and connect to the area’s singletrack.

In addition, the variety of trails offered to cyclists is exceptional. There are a huge number of trails for every type of rider, from rocky and technical trails to flowing ones. There’s even a bike park and an asphalt pump track located within the city limits.

So when is a good time to visit? Anderson warned that Boise gets hot in the summer, easily hitting triple digits in July and August. “Try to visit with bikes in May, June and September, our most beautiful and comfortable times to ride.”

The must-do trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced cyclists?

ATV trail overlooking Boise, Idaho
Even the easy trails offer spectacular views. Photo Shea Anderson/Boise CVB.

Beginner

Anderson recommends the Mountain Cove Trail for new cyclists. “It’s a winding, almost flat cruise that follows the road up the valley to more challenging routes. You can park at the Boise Bike Park and pedal down the road to the trailhead from there. Mountain Cove is an out and back trail unless you feel like climbing the Central Ridge Trail. From the parking lot to the point where first timers might want to turn around is less than 2 miles.

The Around the Mountain trail offers a fun ride with great views. Photo: Shea Anderson/Boise CVB.

Intermediate

For cyclists willing to drive a little, Anderson recommends heading to Bogus Basin Ski Resort and trying the Around the Mountain trail. “It loops around the ski area in a fun 10 mile loop with lots of options to go further or explore. The loop itself has pretty much everything: flowy sections, jumps, berms, and a few roots and rocks to keep you on your toes.

Advanced

Anderson suggests advanced runners tackle Hard Guy. “While not necessarily the most technical trail, every strong rider in Boise will want to know if you’ve tackled it.” Hard Guy is a steady uphill trail that in just five miles of climbing will challenge any runner. Anderson says riders can either descend back down Hard Guy or take Boise Ridge Road (which you’ll meet at the top of Hard Guy) and follow it to several downhill options, including local favorite Sweet Connie.

After the ride

The Restaurant Row on 8th Street offers food and drink for every type of palette. Photo: Brett Sayles/Boise CVB.

For cyclists with post-ride cravings, Anderson suggests checking out Boise’s “restaurant row” on 8th Street near the Idaho State Capital Building. It offers many options, including Diablo and son (a taco saloon), the Bittercreek Brewery, Fork (which sources its supplies almost exclusively from local producers), pie holeand BBQ R&R.

Boise is also home to 15 different craft breweries, which makes sense given that Idaho is one of the largest hop producers in the United States. Among them are Lost Grove Brewery (which offers craft beer, pizza and local entertainment), Payette Brewery, White Dog Brewery, Boise Brewery, Alecraft of the Woodland Empire (which has a bottle shop, bar and restaurant next door), Cloud 9 Breweryand Clairvoyant Brewery (which is both dog and child friendly).

Rest Day Attractions

Tubing the Boise River is a popular pastime during the warmer months. Photo: Boise CVB.

For cyclists visiting during the summer months, Anderson recommends floating the Boise River through town. “Begin to barber park where you can rent float tubes or other equipment and then float to takeout at Boise State Universitywhere you can take a shuttle to your car.”

Animal lovers should visit world center for birds of prey, which is dedicated to the conservation of raptors. Visitors can see eagles, owls, vultures, hawks and falcons from all over the world.

For those who love history, the Old Idaho Penitentiaryone of only four territorial jails open to the public, worth a visit.

Boise is also home to a large Basque community, which first settled in Boise in the late 1800s. Visitors can learn about Basque culture and its history in America by touring the Basque Museum and Cultural Center in the city center.

Special Events and Races

The Boise Goat-Head Fest Parade is a sight to behold. Photo: SWIMBA.

The first annual Boise Mountain Bike Festival took place last June. 600 people attended the 3-day event, which included vendors, demonstrations, group rides, skills training and competitions. The event was designed to celebrate the sport of mountain biking, educate riders on fundamental sport skills, and champion local trails. Expect it to return in June 2023.

The Boise Goat’s Head Party 2022 will take place on August 27e. The Fest is “a wonderfully eerie, authentic, pedal-powered Bose celebration of Boise’s vibrant cycling community.” The main event of the Fest is a parade of over 6,000 cyclists in costume.

Bogus Basin hosts a Series of 6 races for XC and DH riders during the months of June and July. XC races are held on Wednesdays and DH races are held on Thursdays during these months.

Local club information

SWIMBA builds and maintains trails in the foothills around Boise. Photo: SWIMBA.

The Southwest Idaho Mountain Bike Association (SWIMBA) helps defend and maintain trails in the foothills just outside the city limits of Boise. Since the early 1990s, he has championed the trails, educated the community about the sport of mountain biking, and participated in special mountain biking events. SWIMBA has just over 500 members and their current Executive Director is John Palumbo, Jr. You can follow SWIMBA on instagram or consult their Facebook page for the latest Boise trail information.

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