Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
170.00 ft (51.82 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
3.50 mi (5.63 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.

The primary purpose of the Oregon Trail Reserve is to preserve a crucial segment of this historic trail, where wagons entered the Boise River Valley, but it's also a convenient and scenic place to exercise. The trails overlook Surprise Valley and the mountains of the Boise Front, as well as downtown Boise in the distance. The small network of trails make a few loop combinations possible, the longest of which is about 3.5 miles. Two trailheads along Lake Forest Drive access these trails. The reserve also has a third trailhead on the opposite side of Highway 21, but it doesn't connect with the trails described here.

The reserve is situated along a row of basalt cliffs, which once made an impassable obstacle for the wagons on the Oregon Trail. As a solution in the 1860s, pioneers cut a passage through the cliffs known as the Kelton Ramp. Today, the recreation trails use this ramp to get through the cliffs as well. You can trace the same path that the wagons took 150 years ago, and with the help of interpretive signs along the way, you can imagine what this leg of the journey was like for settlers moving out West.

The three main trails are:

  • Oregon Trail: Multi-use path that parallels the actual route of the historic Oregon Trail, and is close to present-day Lake Forest Drive (a residential street)
  • Rim: The most scenic trail in the network, and pedestrian-only. It includes a few designated overlooks with interpretive signs.
  • Basalt: Runs below the base of the basalt cliffs, at the edge of a neighborhood in Surprise Valley, and connects with either end of Rim Trail to make a loop. If you run the full loop, you'll have one steep descent and one steep climb to get through the cliffs.

Note that dogs are allowed on the reserve, but must be on leash at all times. The main reason is that the trails pass very close to private homes and some residential streets, so dogs should not be allowed to leave the trail.

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Nice views. Convenient to town. Historic site.

Cons

Short trail system. Close to neighborhoods.

Trailhead Elevation

3,000.00 ft (914.40 m)

Highest point

3,000.00 ft (914.40 m)

Features

Family friendly
ADA accessible
Historically significant
Bird watching
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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