While everyone knows Boise has a surplus of recreational activities during warm months, few people seem to think about these opportunities existing in the winter months — besides skiing of course, which I am not going to touch on, because I am sure everyone is well aware of the skiing that awaits 16 miles away at Bogus Basin.
While there are many activities that may come to mind for some, my main focus is mountain biking.
I want to be careful as I move onto this next subject, and let everyone know upfront I am not advocating using trails while they are in rough shape, causing damage to a wonderful trail system. That being said, it would seem that a number of Boise residents have a crazy notion that sandy trails get too muddy, and never dry out until April. Before you get all fired up, let me say that there are definitely a lot of times when the trails are too wet to be used. The best conditions on trails, in my opinion, are during Fall and Winter months after they have been rained on, and dried up a bit, or early morning while they are still frozen. Unlike the busy other seasons where the trails are packed with people, this can be a very intimate trail experience on some of the most grippy, fast, packed down trails, creating “hero dirt” aka “action traction”.
If you can get dressed up and ski down a mountain, you can get dressed up and mountain bike in cold conditions. Prior to living in Boise I lived in the Black Hills in South Dakota where feet of snow filled the trails and didn't disappear until spring. This notion of mountain biking in the winter was new to me. The trails off Camels Back Park are the best for Winter riding as they are composed primarily of sand. Unless it is blistering cold out and the trails are frozen, I would not recommend trying this with the Military Reserve trails.
Besides the cold and wet conditions, darkness ends a lot of people's mountain bike season. One major advantage of the smooth trails in the Ridge to Rivers trail system is the ability to ride at night. There are very few places to my knowledge where you can take off from a bike shop, ride a few blocks to enter a trail system, and return back to Hyde Park or for post ride food and drinks. There have been a lot of rides with a group of 10 or more where we ascended using only the moonlight. There is not a shortage of sunny days in Idaho, nor a lack of heat in the summer, but to take a ride at night like this is a very unique experience and an opportunity many would love to have. Rather than condemning the cold and darkness, why not try something new?
The change of pace that comes with Fall and Winter has been something I truly love and appreciate. While you would have to try pretty hard t not enjoy summer in Boise, many folks sink to the bottom during the cold and dark months. And I say to you; go find something special about every seasons!