There are groups locally and nationally looking at having a multi-use trail system in the Garden Valley area and all over the county. These trails would serve non-motorized mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, snow shoe hikers, back packers and cross country/back country skiers. Trails would be set in one area keeping motorized riders in another area.
The economics of doing such trails could be a boon for the local economy. The economic impact in Idaho alone is at 434 million dollars according to statistics. Mountain bike trails can be found located in federal lands, which cover 70% of the state. Improving trails and making the towns in the county bike friendly would bring more riders to the area and they are often willing to spend dollars to eat and lodge and engage in other activities while on their bike tours.
Adventure Cycling Association is a group based out of Montana and made up of about 47 thousand persons who look for places to cycle. Cyclists come from all over the globe and are part of the ACA. One group who was stopped along the Alder Creek trail was from Mississippi and said they loved the tour ride in this area. They plan to come back next year with more people. They were making a loop from Boise to Horseshoe Bend to Garden Valley and on to Idaho City before returning to Boise. Lots of biking tourists fly in their bikes and take this route using all kinds of lodging options, restaurants, grocery stores, bike shops, etc. while they are here. They are contributors to our local economy.
A popular tour is the “Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route”. This encompasses Idaho City, McCall, Ketchum and Stanley which is a 517 mile trail system. There is also an Idaho City and Yurt Tour. With planning and building/improving trails through grants, the County could get more cyclists to come back for more exciting trail rides like this.
Boise County Adventures and the Boise County Job Creation/Job Retention Council is working on acquiring grants to establish multi-use trails, accounting for parking, a rest room, signage, a picnic table, rules for use and trailhead improvements. The Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SWIMBA) could help to get trails defined, mapped, upgraded or built from scratch as the case may be and implemented. Motorized and non-motorized trails would be built on BLM and BNF land. The motorized trails would be primarily upgraded existing Boise National Forest (BNF) roads to be complete in two years or less and the new non-motorized trails on Charter Mountain in another two years including permitting.
Mountain bikers/hikers are, for the most part, very environmentally sensitive, so risk to the environment is minimized just by the nature of the participants. An education program will be part of the project so as to make environmental care and safety priorities to students and therefore to their families. One starting objective will be to create a Garden Valley Mountain Biking Club for students and adults in which education on biking is taught. This is gaining support of the Garden Valley School Superintendent, Mr. Greg Alexander, when approached on the subject.
Many towns in Idaho have established a bike friendly community and have brought a new favorable economic rise to their areas. This can be as simple as placing a bike rack for parking bikes in front of businesses. And, as trails are established and more cyclists come to the area, there will be a need for more bike businesses to include repairs and biking accessories and clothing. The domino effect will be felt in the communities from an increase in adventure cycling tourism.
One of the potential downsides is that motorists often are impatient with cyclists on the narrow road systems in the county. Something to remember is that these cyclists are usually on a vacation or they could be your neighbor. They all will spend money in our communities. Impatient driving does not help anyone.
A groundswell of support is reaching out to Boise County Adventures and the BC JC/RC to improve the trail systems. Many local people would love to continue the cycling experience in Boise County instead of having to go out of the area. As a trail group begins to form to encourage education, plan local trails and work with other biking groups, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, and SWIMBA, look for more information to come in the future. Boise County Adventures Facebook page and website will have information also.