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Ridge to Rivers asks users to stay off muddy trails in the Boise Foothills

Slushy footprints lead down a trail covered in snow. Bare vegetation and shrubs line part of the pathway.
Ridge to Rivers
Seaman's Gulch in the Boise Foothills was slushy, wet, and muddy last week.

Melting snow in the Boise Foothills is making some trails a muddy mess. Now the group that manages its 190 miles of trails is asking users to avoid some areas until they dry out.

Each day, Ridge to Rivers posts a report and an interactive map on its website to let hikers and bikers know what conditions are in the vast interconnected trail system.

Recent weather made for slushy, wet trails in much of the lower foothills.

Sara Arkle is the Superintendent of Foothills and Open Space for Boise Parks and Recreation. When asked why some trails stay muddy and some don’t, Arkle said it’s all about the soil.

“If it’s a sandier soil you know water’s going to percolate and drain off of that soil a little bit more evenly, and if it’s more clay soil then the water tends to be held and those clays kind of mold to a footprint,” says Arkle.

Sandy soils are found at Lower Hulls Gulch and Owl’s Roost, while clay soils are found at Tablerock.

“And so in wet conditions like we’ve been seeing, if folks are going on those trails and leaving pretty deep footprints, it causes rutting and so that increases erosion,” she says.

Arkle said erosion causes a ripple effect that can kill vegetation along the trail, hurting native species. It also makes the trails harder to maintain.

Ridge to Rivers is asking users to stay off muddy trails for now stick with all-weather pathways like the Hulls Pond Loop at Camel’s Back Park.

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As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.