When we lived in Golden, Colorado, we knew exactly where to go for a lunchtime trail run. We knew where we could get in a quick mountain-bike ride before work, and which trails to avoid on the weekend when they were most crowded. If friends were visiting, we could tell them where to find the closest free camping, where they could let dogs run around off-leash and how to find perfect powder turns even on a busy Saturday.
All that changed last fall when we moved to Boise, Idaho. We have a handful of friends here, but because we moved for work—Bix is running the outdoor program at a nearby college—we don’t have the benefit of knowing the area well. It was daunting at first. I used to know exactly how long a certain run would take me, where I’d likely see rattlesnakes and I usually had a pal to join me.
Once we started to settle in, though, I realized that it’s really exciting to get to know our new digs: we have a whole new world to explore (and Idaho is awesome so far)!
If you're looking to get to know your local trails, either after a big move or because you’re starting to get after it outside, here’s what we recommend.
Try a new trail each week
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and hike, bike, or run the same trail over and over—especially once you’ve found a keeper. Chances are, there’s more than one awesome trail in your area. Set a manageable goal, like 10 new trails. Then make a point of exploring at least one trail each week. It can be the local green belt, a quiet walk in a park or open space area, or the local lung-busting hill climb, you’ll be glad to have plenty of options next time you’re wondering, “Where should I hike today?”
Join the local search-and-rescue unit
Different areas have varying requirements of their search-and-rescue unit—some groups need their members to have tons of technical experience, while others are happy to provide training—but chances are you can find some way to help out. Canine search groups often need volunteers to act as subjects for the dogs to practice on, and every unit needs help cleaning and putting away gear after missions. This is a great way to learn the local trails and meet other outdoor enthusiasts.
“When in Rome”
In Golden, it seemed like practically everyone was an ultra-runner. That inspired us to train hard for longer, tougher races. Here in Boise—although there’s no shortage of incredible trail running—we’re quickly discovering that river sports are where it’s at. We’re dusting off our paddling skills and planning to check out the locals’ favorite river runs during the summer. It’s a great conversation starter (just about everyone has a favorite Idaho river trip) and it’s exciting to learn the ins and outs of a sport we’re less experienced in.
Watch those bulletin boards
Most outdoor shops and climbing gyms have message boards where customers and members post signs looking for belay partners, advertising upcoming meetups and spreading the word about events. This is often the best way to find out when your climbing hero is coming to town to speak, when Free Solo is showing at the local theater and where everyone’s favorite crags are. (You might even score some new gear on the cheap!).
The Internet is a wonderland and all, but sometimes, you just can’t beat an old-fashioned guidebook. A couple of friends gifted us with Idaho-related guidebooks when we moved (it’s how we’ve discovered our favorite hot springs here so far), and we’ve been slowly adding to our collection. Our local library also has a bunch of guidebooks on its shelves, and we’ve used them to plan several trips already. Guidebooks often have way more in-depth info about a place’s history, when you should—and shouldn’t—go, and all kinds of other pro tips.
We’re still getting to know our surroundings in Boise. We can’t pretend we don’t sometimes miss our favorite trails in the Golden area (I often wish I could just jog out the door and hike up Nightbird Gulch), but we’re slowly making a dent in all the green space around us. Here’s to new beginnings and many happy trails.