Military Reserve Trail System

A Haven for Recreation and Remembrance: Exploring Boise's Military Reserve

Boise's Military Reserve Trail System

Boise, Idaho, renowned for its vibrant community and picturesque landscapes, is also home to a unique local treasure: the Military Reserve. This expansive area, rich in history and natural beauty, offers residents and visitors alike a place to engage in various recreational activities, honor past soldiers, and immerse themselves in the area's natural flora and fauna. As we explore the Military Reserve, we uncover not only the tracks of Boise's history but also a commitment to preserving a space for community, nature, and the memories of those who served.

Historical Significance:

The Military Reserve, spanning approximately 734 acres, is a living testament to Boise's military past, named after Fort Boise and its military activities from the 1860s to the 1940s. The area, once a stage for gunnery practice, now serves a more peaceful purpose. It's home to an old military cemetery, resting place for veterans of several wars, including the Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, and Spanish-American War. This hallowed ground reminds visitors of the sacrifices made throughout different chapters of American history.

Recreation and Community:

In 2019, the Reserve welcomed a new addition to its recreational offerings: a dog park. This space, with its chat surface (a type of small, smooth gravel), provides a perfect spot for four-legged friends and their owners to play and socialize. However, it's essential to note the city's leash ordinance; pets should be kept on leashes until reaching the off-leash area, ensuring a safe environment for everyone enjoying the reserve.

Trails for Every Enthusiast:

Nestled in the heart of the Boise Foothills, the Military Reserve offers a network of trails perfect for hikers, bikers, and equestrians alike. Each trail promises a unique adventure with the opportunity to immerse oneself in the tranquil beauty and diverse ecosystems of this historic area. Whether you're seeking panoramic views of the city, a serene walk through lush vegetation, or a challenging bike path, there's a trail designed just for your outdoor pursuits.

Here's a guide to some select pathways you might consider on your next visit:

Bucktail Trail (#20A):

  • Exclusive to downhill mountain biking.
  • Alternative uphill route available via Central Ridge Trail.
  • Accompanied by Two Point Trail, a new pedestrian-only path, offering a safe passage for hikers and equestrians.

Central Ridge Trail (#22):

  • Offers the opportunity to create a comprehensive loop with connecting trails.
  • Provides spectacular views of downtown Boise, especially vibrant in the fall.

Cottonwood Creek Trail (#27):

  • Known as "The Black Forest," minus the castles.
  • A rewarding journey through areas rich with cottonwoods and sagebrush flats.
  • Reminder: stick to the main trail to protect wildlife habitats.

Eagle Ridge Trail (#25):

  • Partially asphalted, ideal for less-than-perfect weather conditions.
  • Offers unique perspectives of downtown and Cottonwood Creek.

Ridge Crest Trail (#20):

  • Connects Cottonwood Creek and Freestone Creek areas.
  • Part of the comprehensive "North by Northwest" route.
  • Note: best avoided in winter to prevent trail damage, unless the ground is frozen.

Military Reserve Connection (#23):

  • Serves as a link between the Military and Hulls Gulch Reserves.
  • Integral to the "North by Northwest" passage.
  • Important: remain on the trail to preserve the surrounding rare plant species.

In addition to these trails, visitors are treated to encounters with the local wildlife, including sightings of deer amidst the tall grasses, a testament to the area's thriving biodiversity.

Parking and Access:

For your convenience, designated parking is available at two main trailheads along Mountain Cove Road: Cottonwood Creek Trailhead (0.5 miles from the Reserve Street intersection) and Freestone Trailhead (an additional 0.4 miles up the road). Both are situated on the east side of the road, serving as your gateways to adventure.

As we celebrate and enjoy the natural splendor of the Military Reserve, it's crucial to respect the guidelines set forth for each trail, ensuring a safe and environmentally conscious experience for all visitors. This mutual respect helps maintain the health of the reserve, safeguarding its charm and heritage for future generations. So, lace up your hiking boots, prep your mountain bike, or saddle your horse, and set off to explore the untamed beauty of Boise's Military Reserve!

Flora, Fauna, and Ecological Efforts:

The Reserve isn't just for recreation; it's also a sanctuary for local wildlife. Deer can be seen meandering through the tall grasses, and various plant species thrive throughout the area. Efforts to maintain the reserve's ecological health are ongoing, with assessments conducted to guide its management, including plant inventories and density studies. These efforts ensure that the area remains a thriving natural habitat.

Respecting the Reserve:

While the Military Reserve is a hub for outdoor enjoyment, regulations are in place to ensure its preservation. Smoking and vaping are prohibited, in line with Boise's commitment to maintaining clean, healthy public spaces. Additionally, unauthorized vehicles are not allowed, with towing enforced to protect the Reserve's natural environment.

Boise's Military Reserve is more than a recreational area; it's a bridge to the past, a haven for local wildlife, and a communal backyard where residents can engage with nature and history simultaneously. By respecting the rules and preserving its sanctity, visitors ensure that the Military Reserve remains a cherished part of Boise's community tapestry for generations to come. Whether you're there to reflect on the sacrifices of soldiers past, hike through Idaho's stunning landscapes, or enjoy a day with your pet, the Military Reserve welcomes you.

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