Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Military Reserve is the closest trail system to downtown Boise, and is part of the greater Ridge To Rivers trail network. Thus, a hike at Military Reserve could be a quick jaunt to a viewpoint on a work day, or an extended foray among the foothills on a day off. Central Ridge is one of the main trails here, serving as a hike all its own or as an artery to connect other trails. No matter how far you go up the ridge, it's sure to give your legs and lungs a workout. When you turn around and come down you'll enjoy the reward of gazing over the city. There are no trees on these hills, only an abundance of sagebrush, grasses and wildflowers. That means phenomenal views, but no shelter from the sun and wind. In summer you might go early or late in the day, when temps are cooler and when the light is most dramatic.

The main trailhead for Military Reserve is at the bottom of Mountain Cove Road, where a bike park is located. If you drive a bit farther up this dirt road, however, you'll find that the next trail hub is better for getting on Central Ridge. At this trailhead near Cottonwood Creek, one wide path leaves the parking area and branches into several others. This big junction might seem confusing at first, but you really can't go wrong on any of these trails. All of them go to elevated views on the hillsides, and most of them loop back together eventually. You can choose to hop on Central Ridge Trail right away, or make a loop with another trail first.

One good option is to start on the trail called Toll Road, which goes gently uphill through a little valley. You'll have the creek and the trees to one side, and a grassy slope plus a reddish cliff on the other. Proceed to Ridge Crest Trail to go steeply uphill, and soon connect with Central Ridge Trail. Once on the ridge you can choose to extend your hike by going farther uphill, or turn and start trending back down toward the trailhead. Either way, you could also connect with other trails to vary the route, so there's no reason not to come back and try a different trail next time.

Keep in mind that these trails are popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and four-legged users as well. Those on foot have the right of way, but you should remain aware and always be courteous to other users. Another thing to note is that the soil here is highly erodible, and especially unstable when wet. These trails should be avoided when rainfall or snowmelt make them muddy. Especially because Central Ridge is so steep, it's best to save it for a dry and clear day when you can most enjoy the trail and the views.

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Very scenic. Easy access.

Cons

Hot in summer. Can be too muddy in winter and spring.

Trailhead Elevation

2,800.00 ft (853.44 m)

Highest point

3,275.00 ft (998.22 m)

Features

Family friendly
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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