Boise isn’t the official mountain biking capital of the world, but with over 150 dedicated trails to the downhill sport, it feels like it to us. If you have yet to get into the sport, or are looking at how to get your little ones on the hill, we reached out to local expert, Kim Cross.
Cross is a local resident, published writer, and mountain bike enthusiast. I asked Cross how someone could get into mountain biking to enjoy the common Boise activity.
Interview with Kim Cross on How to Get Started
What steps should someone consider when they're looking to get into mountain biking?
First, make sure your bike is in good working order and is a good fit for your body. (This includes everything from saddle width to brake lever placement.) Any bike shop can help you with that. Next, take a mountain biking skills clinic or lesson to learn fundamental bike-handling skills. A lot of mountain-biking techniques are not intuitive, especially for those of us who didn't grow up riding a BMX bike off hand-built ramps in the neighborhood. Fundamental techniques -- including pedal position, bike-body separation, wheel lifts, braking, and cornering -- underlie every advanced riding skill. A lesson can shorten the learning curve and reduce not only frustration but the risk of injuries.
Is there anything in particular that makes our mountain biking trails special? Compared to other cities or states?
The sheer magnitude and accessibility of our trail systems is stunning. I can't think of many cities where you can ride from the Capitol to a trailead in less than 10 minutes. The other thing that's really special is our bike parks. Boise Bike Park has the kinds of dirt jumps and features you'd expect to find in Whistler. Pros come from other states to ride there, but you'll also find toddlers on balance bikes learning on the pump track. Eagle Bike Park is fantastic in a complementary way, with more enduro-style trails and a great skills park with features and drops.
Can you suggest any good local mountain biking groups that beginners could look into joining?
SWIMBA (South West Idaho Mountain Bike Association) is a local group dedicated to building and maintaining our world-class trail systems. They host group rides, trail-building classes, and skills clinics. There's a great women's MTB group called the Crank Queens, and they host inclusive group rides. The Boise Mountain Bike Festival is an annual event that brings together the whole mountain-bike community for a day of riding, demos, clinics, and more. And for kids in sixth to twelfth grade, check out the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League, which has made mountain-biking a school sport for more than 1,000 kids in Idaho.
What is your favorite mountain biking trail in Boise?
It depends on the day, how much time I have, and what I feel like riding. For a quick weeknight hot lap that I can do from my house in an hour or less, I like Shane's Loop. If I'm wanting to practice cornering, Bucktail. If I want to see my bike park pals and practice jumping, Boise Bike Park. If I'm in McCall and have a day, I love Jug Mountain Ranch.
Is there a local teacher you would suggest to a child or adult looking to get into mountain biking? Or when are you teaching a class?
If you plug into SWIMBA and the Crank Queens, they often have mini clinics and classes. I teach for Ninja MTB Performance and Brave Endeavors, which put on one-day and two-day clinics in Boise a few times a year. On request, I occasionally do private or small-group lessons. For private and group lessons from a very skilled rider, I highly recommend my friend Levi Weert, an amazing coach who built a devoted following at The Lumberyard, an indoor bike park in Portland.
Where to Buy a Mountain Bike in the Treasure Valley
With all this professional advice from Cross, I wanted to find all the local resources to help one get into mountain biking. To get started, you’re going to need the proper type of bike to handle the terrain, speed, and environmental conditions that any mountain biker will face.
Play it Again Sports
7566 W Fairview Ave, Boise
2730 Sundance Rd, Nampa
Trek Bicycle Boise West
1401 N Milwaukee St, Boise
DICK’S Sporting Goods
131 N Milwaukee St, Boise
6681 W Fairview Ave, Boise
5515 W State St, Boise
312 S 3rd St, Boise
Ridgeline Bike & Ski
10470 W Overland Rd, Boise
8300 Emerald St, Boise
Idaho Mountain Touring
1310 W Main St, Boise
Eagle Bike Shop
8305 W State St, Boise
4001 W Hill Rd, Boise
World Cycle & XC Ski
1407 State St, Boise
Reed Cycle Inc.
2340 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise
238 E State St, Eagle
Kore North Bicycles & Skateboards
2483 E Fairview Ave #107, Meridian
10422 W Fairview Ave, Boise
Bike Touring News
3853 N Garden Center Way, Boise
Tri Town Bicycles
1510 N 13th St, Boise
1203 N Main St, Meridian
822 Jefferson St, Boise
1306 W Alturas St, Boise
Where to Mountain Bike in the Treasure Valley
Once you’ve secured a proper mountain bike, it could be time to hit the trails! Here’s where to find the maintained trails and parks in the Valley:
Ridge To Rivers
Mountain Bike Project
Bike Parks -
- 4623 Willow Ln, Boise
- 750 Mountain Cove Rd, Boise
- Old Horseshoe Bend Rd, Garden City
Bogus Basin Mountain Resort
Local Mountain Biking Etiquette
The unspoken yet respected rules of the boise trails systems are an important part of our outdoor culture. Be sure to follow along with them to help keep trail peace, but also preserve our unique ecosystem and respect our community of hikers, bikers, and all of those out on the trail.
Ridge to Rivers Trail Etiquette:
- Be mindful
- Don’t use wet trails
- Stay on the trail
- Be respectful
- Don’t block trails
With all of these local shops, trails and advice, you can now get started on your journey into mountain biking in Boise. It’s just one of the many wonderful communities and activities that someone can join. Be sure to tag @totallyboise and #totallyboise in any of your epic trail pics posted on social media!
For info on local hiking trails in the Boise Foothills, check out our page.
Ridge to Rivers Trails
Thank you Kim Cross for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us! Find mountain biker and Boise author Cross online!
And thanks to Angie Smith for providing such a rad picture of Cross in her element! Find Smith here!