Dry Creek and Shingle Creek trails, close to downtown Boise, are relatively lush with vegetation and a great place to run, hike or bike in all seasons.
Interpretive sign illustrating trails in the Dry Creek Experimental Watershed
Dry Creek/Shingle Creek Loop - 13.88 miles total
Dry Creek in December - Boise Foothills
Autumn along Upper Dry Creek
The Dry Creek/Shingle Creek loop is my new favorite trail close to Boise for so many reasons. There's a surprising variety of vegetation as you climb 2,000 feet. You get a beautiful creek ecosystem and a ridge ecosystem. You make many stream crossings over Dry Creek Trail with bunch grasses, sagebrush and Woods Rose by your side as you begin, only to end up above this in a breezy forest of Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir overlooking the Treasure Valley. We did this hike in November and still heard the sounds of rushing water and boots sloshing through shallow crossings in the creek.
Dry Creek Trail after intersection with Shingle Creek
The feature rock in this watershed is granite from the Atlanta Lobe of the Idaho Batholith; weathered outcrops stand along the Dry Creek Trail. One of the most intriguing aspects of hiking is that you get to experience the young and the very old in harmony. The 75 - 85 million year old granite breaks down into sandy loam and loam soils to give the perennial and annual plants a substrate to grow in.
At the Dry Creek/Shingle Creek intersection, we hiked up Dry Creek Trail. The topography got steeper as we neared the ridge. Most bridges across the creek are flat-topped logs especially helpful during elevated spring run-offs. Numerous waterfalls and moss, a forest thick with trees and brush make this Boise foothills hike enjoyable. Such a beautiful riparian environment so close to home!
After 2,000 feet of climbing, the ridge lies at ~ 5,600 feet in elevation, where the sound of water rushing over rocks is replaced by wind flowing through Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine branches. We saw lots of deer tracks in the snow and at the top a very fit-looking runner. At the trail junction sign, a short 0.4 mile spur continues to the southeast to join Boise Ridge Road. To continue to Shingle Creek, head on Trail 79 to the west. Soon the Treasure Valley is seen through the opening in the canyon.
Trail junction sign at top of Ridge 0.4 miles from Boise Ridge Road
Fun bikers near where Shingle Creek Trail starts to climb
After zig-zagging down from the ridge, the trail finally meets up with Shingle Creek, a narrower creek compared to Dry Creek. A couple of runners whizzed by us. Shortly after that, we met up with 4 bikers (above) that weren't doing the whole loop but were having a great time. Of course, we had to chat about mountain bikes and trails we had ridden. This part of the trail seems a bit long as it returns to lower elevation ecosystem of perennial bunch grasses and rabbitbrush.
Heading northeast up Dry Creek Trail
Last week, Boise was stuck in a nasty temperature inversion . For those who don't know what that is, click on the preceding link, but if you are from the Treasure Valley, you definitely know what an "inversion" is! When we're stuck in it, we talk about it at work, at the store, at the barber shop, at the coffee shop, as we are all in it together (except for the smart folks who drive to Bogus Basin to get above it).
Fred and I took a second hike up Dry Creek Trail in this inversion; we got high enough in elevation so that we could see blue skies ahead (see previous photo). We didn't hike the entire loop this time, but seeing blue when we looked up made us feel a little better - not to mention the beauty of snow on branches, and the feel of walking on soft snow.
About this blog
– "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west. I hope to hear about your adventures!
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