Upper Dry Creek Headwaters becomes non-motorized to create family trail experience

Another informal trail system in the Boise Foothills is going formal — and non-motorized.

Gates have been installed on the Upper Dry Creek Headwaters trails along Bogus Basin Road, the first step in creating a family-friendly trail system and protecting the property from trash dumping, vandalism, tree cutting and other undesirable activity. The gates will be closed around the time it starts to snow.

The trails, which are badly rutted logging roads, are managed by the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley as part of a revocable agreement between the property owner, Grossman Company Properties, and the city of Boise. The priority is to maintain the trails in a way that protects the headwaters of the creek, which has native redband trout — the only trout in the Foothills.

The Grossman property covers 3,400 acres of the 6,000 acres in the Upper Dry Creek watershed.

“The non-motorized experience is one we’re attempting to embrace so that it’s a little bit more family-friendly outing,” said Tim Breuer, executive director of the Land Trust. “It’s so close to Boise. In fact, from an overlook surrounded by trees you can see Downtown Boise, so it’s a pretty unique, cool opportunity.”

The Upper Dry Creek Headwaters system has two trailheads marked with interpretive signs. The first is 12.2 miles from the intersection of Bogus Basin and Hill roads. Turn onto the dirt road on the right, where there is parking for a few cars. This is called the 12 Mile Trailhead. It’s one mile to the Ponderosa Pine Overlook, with a terrific view of the city below. We added the Snowshoe Hare Loop to our hike, which resulted in a 2.6-mile loop with about 300 feet of elevation gain (down on the way in, up on the way back).

The Doug Fir Loop adds another 1.75 miles and leads to a trail that would connect to the other trailhead if you wanted a lengthy adventure. The Ponderosa Pine Overlook also connects to the Dry Creek trail that is part of Ridge to Rivers via an unnamed trail (but it’s very rough right now).

The turn for the second trailhead, the Ridge Road Trailhead, is 13.9 miles up Bogus Basin Road. Turn right onto the dirt road and follow it for about a quarter mile, where there’s only room for a couple of cars. The trail begins on the right but the marker isn’t visible from the road. The Headwaters Trail is about a 3.2-mile round trip with 600 feet of elevation change (mostly down on the way in, up on the way back). It winds through the forest below the ridge and ends at the creek. You can turn around to return to the trailhead or take the 1.1-mile Headwaters Connection over to Doug Fir Loop.

The headwaters area has been popular with snowshoers and cross country skiers in the past. Breuer also hopes it becomes a place for family mountain bike rides because the trails are wide and not technical, but some maintenance will have to be done first to fix the ruts.

“We’ll be attempting to fix them the next couple of years,” Breuer said.

Parking also will need to be addressed eventually, depending on how much use the trails get.