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12 Best Hiking Trails Near Boise, Idaho

12 Best Hiking Trails Near Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho’s capital city, is a vibrant and friendly city with plenty to offer residents and visitors alike. Often referred to as the “City of Trees,” Boise is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is full of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the scenery. And as I was planning my trip to Boise, I knew I wanted to spend some time hiking and exploring the area’s natural beauty. 

After doing some research, I discovered a ton of great trails near Boise. I had the opportunity to hike several of these trails during my stay, and I wanted to share my experience with you. And in this post, I’ll share the 12 Best Hiking Trails Near Boise and tell you what to expect. Read on!

1. Table Rock Trail, Quarry View Park

•            Distance: 3.2 miles

•            Elevation gain: 832 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

Another one of the most popular hiking destinations near Boise is Table Rock. This 3.2-mile out-and-back hike gains 832 feet of elevation and features a few switchbacks towards the top. This is a great option for those looking for an easier hike with some incredible views.

The trailhead for Table Rock is located from the Old Penitentiary parking lot. The Old Penitentiary is located about 10 minutes from downtown Boise, making it a great option for those looking to hike close to the city.

The hike to the summit of table rock is moderate in difficulty, though the last quarter-mile is a bit more challenging. But once you reach the top of Table Rock, you will be treated to some incredible views of the Boise skyline and the surrounding mountains. There is also a large boulder at the top of the rock that makes for a great place to take a break and enjoy the view.

Although this is an out-and-back hike, a few trails in the area enable a loop. Our group took the Table Rock Trail to the summit and descended via the Table Rock Quarry Trail. This added an extra mile or so to our hike, but it was a nice change of scenery.

And since the clay nature of the trail is vulnerable to damage during rainy weather, it is recommended to avoid this trail if there has been recent precipitation.

2. Polecat Loop, Polecat Gulch Reserve

•            Distance: 6.8 miles

•            Elevation gain: 822 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

Polecat Loop is a great option for those looking for a longer hike with some variety. I had been recommended this hike by a local, and it did not disappoint. Although it is a bit longer at 6.8 miles, the trail is relatively flat, with only 822 feet of elevation gain.

There are two trailhead options for Polecat LoopCartwright Road and the end of Collister Road. I started from the Collister Road trailhead and would recommend this option as it is less crowded. I hiked most of the trail in solitude, which was nice. However, be prepared to share the trail with mountain bikers as this is a popular option for them as well.

The trail follows along the side of a hill with great views of the Treasure Valley. There are a few small creek crossings, but nothing that should pose any problem. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

I completed the hike in about four hours, including a few stops for pictures and taking in the views. And although this is a great hike for all levels, I would recommend it for those who are comfortable hiking longer distances.

All in all, I had fun on this hike and would recommend it to others. It’s one of the best hiking trails in Boise that offers beautiful scenery and is not too crowded.

3. Stack Rock Trail, Boise National Forest

•            Distance: 9.4 miles

•            Elevation gain: 1424 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

This was one of the hiking trails near Boise that I was most looking forward to during my stay. I had seen some incredible pictures of the area, which made it one of my must-do hikes.

The Stack Rock Trail is a 9.4-mile loop hike in the Boise National Forest. This moderate hike gains over 1400 feet of elevation and features a variety of scenery, including forests and rock formations.

The hike up to stack rock is moderate in difficulty with a few steeper sections. But the scenery along the way is well worth the effort. And although this is a longer hike, there are plenty of places to take a break and enjoy the views.

At the end of the trail is an impressive rock formation known as Stack Rock. Climbing to the top of this formation gives you a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is truly an incredible sight and has one of the best views in Idaho. This is a great place to take a break and enjoy the views before heading back down the trail.

Keep in mind that this is one of the most popular hiking trails near Boise, so it can get crowded on weekends and holidays. And don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes, as there are some rocky and uneven sections of the trail.

4. Harrison Hollow Trail, Hillside to Hollow Reserve

•            Distance: 1 mile

•            Elevation gain: Minimal

•            Difficulty: Easy

I know you’re probably thinking, “One mile? That’s not a hike.” But Harrison Hollow Trail in the Boise Foothills is a great option for those looking for an easy hike with incredible views.

This short, one-mile trail is located in the Hillside to Hollow Reserve. This 260-acre preserve is located just minutes from downtown Boise and features a variety of trails that are perfect for a quick hike or trail run.

Harrison Hollow Trail is perfect for those looking for a casual stroll during the evening or early morning as it is short and features a gentle elevation gain. And while the trail itself is short, there are a few options to extend your hike by taking one of the many connecting trails in reserve.

During my hike, I connected to Harrison Ridge Trail, which added some nice elevation changes and views of the surrounding mountains.

Overall, Harrison Hollow Trail is a great option for those looking to get outside for a quick hike without having to travel far from the city.

5. Red Cliffs Nature Center Trail, Camels Back Reserve

•            Distance: 3 miles

•            Elevation gain: 480 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

Next on my list of the best hiking trails in Boise is the Red Cliffs Nature Center Trail. This is another great option for those looking for an easy to moderate hike with incredible views.

This 3-mile loop trail is located just outside of Boise in Carmel Back Reserve. This trail is wide and well-maintained, making it a great option for those looking for an easy hike.

But don’t let the moderate rating fool you, this hike has some great views. The main attraction is the red cliffs that give the nature center its name. These cliffs are a beautiful red hue and make a great backdrop to the Boise skyline. And due to the rolling nature of the trail, you’ll have plenty of breaks to catch your breath.

One problem I encountered with this trail is many crisscrossing trails. So it can be easy to get turned around if you’re not paying attention. Therefore, I recommend carrying your GPS or phone with you to make sure you stay on the right trail. In addition, this is a popular trail for both hikers and mountain bikers, so it can feel crowded at times.

6. Mores Mountain Loop, Boise National Forest

•            Distance: 2.0 miles

•            Elevation gain: 492 feet

•            Difficulty: Easy

If you are looking for the best places to hike near Boise, Mores Mountain Loop is another great option. This 2.0-mile loop hike gains just under 500 feet of elevation and features a variety of different terrain.

This trail is popular with families, runners, and hikers alike. It is just minutes from downtown Boise and offers some great views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is also well-maintained and relatively flat, making it a great option for those looking for an easy hike.

There are a few small hills on the Mores Mountain Loop, but nothing too challenging. The trail is also shaded for much of the hike, which makes it a great option for hot summer days.

One of the best things about this hike is that it is so close to downtown Boise. This makes it a great option for those looking to get a quick hike after work or on the weekend. 

However, if you come hiking here during winter, be sure to bring traction devices for your shoes. The trail can be icy in places, and the last thing you want is to slip and fall on the ice. Plus, be prepared for more gain in elevation because of the packed snow on the trail.

7. Central Ridge Trail, Military Reserve

•            Distance: 2 miles

•            Elevation gain: 460 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

Encompassing over 700 acres, Military Reserve is one of the largest parks in Boise. This sprawling park is located just north of downtown and offers a variety of trails for hikers of all levels.

One of the most popular trails in the Military Reserve is the Central Ridge Trail. This 2-mile point-to-point trail gains 460 feet of elevation and offers some great views of the Boise skyline. You can also extend your hike by connecting to other trails in the park, such as the Bucktail Trail and Mountain Cove.

The trailhead for Central Ridge Trail is located at the bottom of Mountain Cove Road. There is a small parking area at the trailhead, but it often fills up quickly on weekends.

And being one of the best hiking trails in Boise, the Central Ridge Trail is popular with dog-walkers, runners, and mountain bikers. You’ll also see families out on the trail, as it is a great option for those looking for a relatively easy hike. Just be sure to start early if you want to avoid the crowds.

8. Elephant Rock, Military Reserve

•            Distance: 0.8 miles

•            Elevation gain: 100 feet

•            Difficulty: Easy

As earlier mentioned, the Military reserve is large and has many connector trails throughout the area. In fact, this is one of the best places to hike in Boise if you are looking to get in some miles. But if you are just looking for a short and easy hike with great views, Elephant Rock is a great option.

This 0.8-mile loop hike is mostly flat and only gains about 100 feet of elevation. The highlight of this hike is, you guessed it, The Elephant Rocks. These are large boulders that have been carved out by the elements, creating a rock formation that resembles an elephant.

I enjoyed this hike for the unique rock formations and the great views of Boise. This is a great option for families with small children or those looking for an easy hike.

9. Hulls Gulch Nature Trail, Hulls Gulch Reserve

•            Distance: 6.3 miles

•            Elevation gain: 1,131 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

The Hulls Gulch Nature Trail is another great option for those looking for a moderate hike with beautiful scenery. This 6.3-mile trail is located just minutes from downtown Boise and features a variety of terrains and landscapes.

What makes this trail so special is that it’s one of the hiking trails in Boise that does not allow mountain bikes. This allows hikers to really enjoy the peace and quiet of nature without having to worry about dodging bikes on the trail. And although it gains over 1,000 feet of elevation, the trail is never too steep or challenging.

The trail is well-maintained, with interpretive signs along the way that provide information about the local flora and fauna. But one of the best features of this hike is the variety of scenery. The trail winds through a forested area, as well as a meadow with wildflowers. And towards the end of the hike, you will be treated to some great views of the Boise skyline.

So if you are looking for a moderate hike near Boise that features a variety of scenery, then Hulls Gulch Nature Trail is a great option.

10. Boise River Greenbelt Trail, Boise

•            Distance: 25 miles

•            Elevation gain: 200 feet

•            Difficulty: Easy

I continue my list of the best hiking trails near Boise with the Boise River Greenbelt Trail. This flat, paved trail is one of the most popular in the city and a great option for those looking for an easy hike, bike ride, or run.

The trail follows the Boise River for 25 miles, and there are multiple access points along the way. This makes it easy to customize your hike to any distance you desire. It is also a great option for those looking to take their dog on a hike, as the Greenbelt is one of the few trails in the area that allows dogs.

The Boise River Greenbelt Trail is a great option for a summer hike, as there are plenty of trees along the way that provides shade. There are also several parks and playgrounds along the trail, making it a great option for families.

I hiked the southern end of the trail, which is a popular area for fishing and bird-watching. I didn’t see many people on the trail, which made for a peaceful hike. I recommend starting early in the morning or on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds.

11. Adelmann Mine and Lucky Peak, Boise National Forest

•            Distance: 9.5 miles

•            Elevation gain: 2435 feet

•            Difficulty: Moderate

If you want to combine some history with your hike, then you should check out the Adelmann Mine and Lucky Peak. This 9.5-mile hike takes you by an old mining operation and ends with stunning views of Lucky Peak.

The trailhead for Lucky Peak is located at Boise River Wildlife Management Area. The first few miles of the hike are relatively flat as you follow an old mining road. And after about two miles, you will come across a small meadow with a path that leads to the Adelmann Mine.

The Adelmann Mine was established in the early 1900s and is one of the oldest mines in Idaho. Although the mine is now abandoned, it is still an interesting place to explore. Ruins of the old buildings and machinery are still scattered about the area.

After exploring the Adelmann Mine, go back to the main trail and continue your hike to Lucky Peak. The last few miles of the hike are fairly steep as you make your way up to the summit. But once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Lucky Peak and the surrounding mountains. There is also a bird observatory at the summit, which is a great place to learn about the local birds and take in the incredible views.

12. Cervidae Peak Trail 

•            Distance: 2 miles

•            Elevation gain: 2,000 feet

•            Difficulty: Hard

And last on my list of the best hiking trails near Boise is the Cervidae Peak Trail, perfect for experienced hikers looking for a challenge. This 2-mile out-and-back hike features a challenging ascent to Cervidae Peak, which tops out at an elevation of 4,987 feet. This is one of the more difficult trails near Boise, but it is also one of the most rewarding.

This hike is ideal for those looking to test their endurance and get a good workout. And although the trail is only 2 miles long, it should not be underestimated. The trail gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation, making it a strenuous hike.

However, the views from the top of Cervidae Peak are more than worth the effort. From the summit, you will be treated to 360-degree views of the Boise area, including the downtown skyline, the Boise River, and the surrounding mountains.

Since this hike is less popular than some of the other hiking trails near Boise, you may not see many people on the trail. But it is always a good idea to hike with a partner, especially on a less-trafficked trail.

The trailhead for Cervidae Peak Trail is located less than a mile after the Spring Shores Marina on Arrowrock Dam Road. There is a small parking area at the trailhead, but it’s a small space.

In summary

Which is your best option for hiking trails near Boise? This really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a moderate hike with great views, then Table Rock is a great option. For something a bit more challenging, try out the Cervidae Peak Trail. And for a short and easy hike, check out Elephant Rocks. These trails are located within a few miles of downtown Boise, making them great options for those looking to hike close to the city.

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