Epicenter: Ride More Than 200 Miles of Trail Right from Downtown

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If ever there were a mountain bike destination that could be labeled a honey hole, Boise is it.

Idaho’s capital city is nestled at the base of the Boise Front, a picturesque backdrop of grassy, rolling foothills that boasts nearly 200 miles of trail. Once you pedal into your first ride, with unobstructed viewscapes and rollercoaster trails, you’ll see just how perfect the area is for mountain biking.

The extended ridges punctuated by deep valleys provide a number of interesting and challenging options for multiple days of riding. And don’t forget the elevation. There are almost 5,000 vertical feet between the edge of downtown to the top of Bogus Basin Recreation Area—plenty to satisfy both uphill aficionados and downhill fun hogs.

Boise’s weather is a dream. Expect plenty of sunshine and not much rain with a long riding season that runs from early spring well into fall. After you roll back into town from a day on the trails, you’ll be well taken care of with the many food and drink options that Boise has to offer. From neighborhood bistros to hip downtown establishments, the city has the range from mellow to chic. 

—5 Great Rides—

1. Around the Mountain

Big, green woods stand in stark contrast of the foothills closer to town. | Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Around the Mountain is a must-do loop around the ski area at Bogus Basin Recreation Area. The trails here feature moderate climbs and great berms that make the fast, flowing descents really memorable.

Depending on where you are, you can see to the Sawtooth Mountains (one of the most stunning ranges in the lower 48) or all the way down into Boise. The route is well-signed and connects to many other trails at Bogus Basin and beyond, so be sure to explore more than just this loop.

2. Watchman

Watchman is the anchor trail for any good ride in Boise. It’s fun in either direction, so you’re covered when it comes to quad-burning climbs or thrilling descents. Longtime local rider Chris C. has some solid advice regarding the descents on Watchman Trail: "There's a lot of exposure in a couple of sections, which should keep you motivated to stay on the trail."

Aside from the trail's fun nature, Watchman is also one of the best places to see Boise's epic springtime wildflowers on display. Check out the Watchman Chicken Leg Burner route for 14 miles of some of the best riding the area has to offer.

3. Table Rock

A snapshot of the rocky terrain at Table Rock. | Photo by MTBP user boise biker

Looking for a break from Boise's generally smooth and flowing singletrack? How does ledgy, rocky chunk sound to you? If you're into technical trail riding, look no further than the trails at Table Rock. This small trail system on the southeast end of town has a series of challenging loops that take you all over and around a hillside full rock outcroppings.

Given the maze-like weave of technical trails here, you can create tons of loop variations—just be ready to push your bike in a few places the first time around. Check out the Table Rock Tech ride if you're looking for a good way to get after it.

4. Thunder Monkey Shuttle

For a top-to-bottom run of the Boise Front, get on the Thunder Monkey Shuttle Ride. The route has everything: climbs, breathtaking descents, challenging features, and some excellent backcountry singletrack. It's no Whole Enchilada  but with more than 4,500 feet of descending, this shuttled point-to-point certainly meets the criteria of an epic ride.

Because the ride features such a vast drop in elevation, you'll get to experience an ever-changing environment along the way. From the technical wooded singletrack on Mahalo Trail to the blasting, wide-open flow in the lower foothills, this ride is the ultimate Boise singletrack sampler. It even hits all of Dry Creek—"Simply the best descent in the Boise area” according to long-time MTB Project contributor Cory Harelson.

5. Ada/Eagle Bike Park

Speed blur on one of the many flow trails at the Ada/Eagle Bike Park | Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

The Ada/Eagle Bike Park is a great place to do laps on some mountain bike specific terrain. The park features a network of singletrack loops anchored by jump lines and a pump track. With everything from jumps and berms to drops and skinnies to choose from, you're sure to have some fun building your skills here.

—The Best—

Eats

Hyde Park and 8th Street are both fruitful zones for whatever your heart desires, whether hip and modern or straight up greasy spoon. 

The (original) Boise Co-Op is a healthy one-stop-shop option that has both prepared foods and all the ingredients to make your own meals. If you’d rather leave the preparation to someone else, find a spot at Bleubird Cafe’s counter to watch them whip out savory dishes, including gooey grilled cheese sandwiches on thick slices of sourdough bread.

 

The Boise coffee scene is next level. On par with Portland and San Francisco, the city has over 150 places to top off your caffeine stores. Dawson's Downtown is simple and original with an old school feel. If their coffee doesn’t win you over, their baked goods certainly will. It starts with five different kinds of croissants (chocolate and Nutella included!) and goes from there.

Camping

For easy access to Around the Mountain and the rest of the Bogus Basin trails, grab a spot at Shafer Butte Campground. With just a handful of sites and great views of the Sawtooth Mountains, be sure to plan ahead and book your site well before you arrive. 

If you don't like sleeping on the ground but still want something rustic, check out the Bogus Basin Yurt, a Mongolian-style tent that has bunk beds, a propane stove for cooking and a big ol' deck for lounging.

Rest-Day Activity

The Boise River Greenbelt is a great option for a stroll or an easy pedal on the townie bike. The path runs for over 25 miles, so you can make it as long or short as you need. Be sure your route includes the zoo. You might just get up close and personal with the giraffe exhibit, whose residents are often spotted watching activities along the Boise River.

This story is part of our ongoing series, Epicenterin collaboration with PeopleForBikes.

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