Ridge to Rivers: Plant Life in the Boise Foothills

Just outside the city of Boise lie the Boise Foothills. These sprawling hills contain beautiful rolling fields, grasslands, and forests. Home to many different kinds of wild animal life and plant life, the foothills are a fantastic place to escape the busy city and enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature. With over 130 miles of trails and pathways, the Boise Foothills provide a unique journey through the countryside, where you can experience beautiful vistas, crisp air, and uninterrupted time outside in nature.

The Ridge to Rivers trail system is extensive, and offers a huge variety of terrain and varying difficulties. You can hit the trails on bike, horseback, in hiking boots, or in running shoes. This trail system is unique, because it also acts as a nature preserve, and it’s home to rare plant life, and a variety of wild animals. Enjoy the views and the landscape, but stick to the trails in order to keep this massive area pristine and natural, in order for future generations to enjoy it as well.

Wild and Varied Plant Life

The Boise Foothills are covered in plant life, and even though fires and overgrazing have culled some of the flora in the area, there are still large pockets where the native plants are reclaiming the land. It’s almost like taking a trip into the past, when the animals and plants ruled all of this area, instead of the developed areas of an expanding population of people.

The foothills are full of plant life, and some of them are truly spectacular. When you hit the trail, be sure to keep an eye out. Some of these plants have had a long struggle, and it’s amazing that they are still growing here, and in many cases, thriving.

  • The taper-tip onion is one of the most common plants you’ll find here. You can recognize them by the bright pink flowers that bloom in the spring, starting in May. Some of the stalks grow 12 inches tall, even though the onions are only the size of a grape.
  • Aase’s onion is far less common in the area. In fact, it’s a very rare plant, because it only grows in the sandy areas of the Boise Foothills, around Emmett, Payette, and Weiser. It doesn’t grow anywhere else. Not even anywhere else in the world. You’ll want to visit the foothills between March and April to see this rare plant, though, as it doesn’t bloom any other time, and you won’t be able to see it as it becomes dormant for the rest of the year.
  • For a truly rare plant, be on the lookout for slickspot peppergrass. It only grows in a very particular spot, so keep an eye out for the white flowers of this mustard plant where other vegetation isn’t growing.
  • While you’re in the foothills, you’ll have the chance to see Idaho’s state flower, the syringa. Search near rocky locations, as that’s the terrain that this shrub prefers. You’ll notice it when it blooms in June, because of its beautiful white flowers. Although, the flowers smell like orange blossoms.
  • Oregon sunshine is a unique sunflower. It only grows in very sandy areas of the Boise Foothills, and you’ll be able to see it’s bright yellow blooms in May and June. It’s commonly known as the wooly sunflower, because its leaves are covered in white hairs that help protect it from the sun.
  • If you’re exploring the higher elevations of the foothills, keep an eye out for the bright red flowers of the scarlet gilia. Not only are these plants beautiful, they also attract hummingbirds because of the nectar produced by the flowers.

Live in the City, Play in the Foothills

Living in Boise provides the best of both worlds. You live in a prime urban area of Idaho, with beautiful homes, parks, and real estate, but you aren’t very far away from the great outdoors of Idaho. Enjoy escaping into the wilderness on the beautiful trail systems of Ridge to Rivers in the Boise Foothills. You’ll have plenty to experience, and every day can be an adventure. Living in Idaho provides you with plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore, and every day can be unique and different.

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