Foothills survey shows changing trail users

STATESMAN STAFFFebruary 5, 2014 

A survey Ridge to Rivers conducted in the fall showed more than half of Foothills users are walkers, 60 percent drive to trailheads, and 76 percent support designations for single-use trails by hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers to help prevent conflicts.

Data was compiled on Oct. 9 from 1,244 people who completed surveys at 12 trailheads. Dozens of volunteers conducted the survey for 12 hours.

Ridge to Rivers has gathered surveys annually since 2009. Results from the survey are used to apply for grants, make improvements to trails, and identify trends on the 150-mile trail system.

Survey results include:

• 76 percent supported trail designations for pedestrians only or mountain bikers only. Support has steadily increased from 26 percent in 2009.

• Trail users age 50 and over increased from 21 percent in 2009 to 32 percent in 2013.

• The most heavily visited trailhead is Table Rock with 32 percent of those surveyed.

• The gender split is 48 percent females and 52 percent males.

• 94 percent live in Ada County (81 percent from Boise, 4 percent from 17 other states, 0.3 percent from France, Germany, Mexico and Sweden).

• 59 percent visit the Ridge to Rivers trails frequently.

• Old Pen Trailhead tallied the most first-time Ridge to Rivers trail users.

• 60 percent travel to trailheads by car (42 percent in 2009).

• 64 percent visit in a group.

• 33 percent were dog owners (up from 25 percent in 2012).

• 60 percent spent 1-2 hours on the trails.

• 27 percent answered correctly the dog off-leash distance limit of 30 feet.

• Hikers/walkers increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2013.

• 77 percent supported an annual user fee.

Survey respondents say that they appreciate the trail system. Seventy percent indicated that they like “everything” about the Foothills; 9 percent mentioned specific trails, and 9 percent enjoyed the natural beauty.

Ridge to Rivers is a collaborative partnership founded in 1992 with active participation from the City of Boise’s Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game and Ada County.

For more detailed results of the survey got to ridgetorivers.org.

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