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Challenge Accepted!

The Boise Trail Challenge Brings the Community Closer One Mile at a Time

Article by Ashley Loeb

Photography by Ashley Loeb

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

The Boise Trails Challenge (BTC) is an annual summer event for those looking for an unforgettable experience in the great outdoors. Participants attempt a traverse across 170+ miles of the Boise Trails system, testing their endurance while perhaps breaking old habits and discovering new trails. Formed in honor of the late Jason Delgadillo, BTC also fosters a strong sense of community and growing appreciation for the beautiful local landscape, making it the epitome of what makes Boise one of the best cities to call home.

Jason and friend Kirk Cheney were part of the “Boise Dawn Patrol,” a close group of men who bonded over early morning trail rides. Jason had a passion for the Boise trails that led him to start developing an online system to encourage others to explore the trails.  Before completing the project, Jason tragically passed away in May 2018 while doing what he loved most, mountain biking. With the support of Jason’s wife Dena, Kirk continued the Boise Trails website, and organized the annual trail challenge in Jason’s name.

The 5th annual BTC commences on June 16, 2022.  Kirk says, “The trails are one of Boise’s greatest assets,” and his goal is to inspire more people to get out and experience this amazing trail system.  While the ultimate goal is to complete every trail in the challenge within 30 days while hiking, biking, or running, he acknowledges, “You can still get the benefits even if you don’t care about completing 100%.”

For those with a competitive edge, “winner” is defined as the first person of your gender and travel mode to complete all the trails in the challenge. However, Kirk emphasizes that, “We don’t talk about it as a race because it’s really a challenge against yourself.”  For Kirk, the most rewarding part of this challenge is participant feedback.  “This challenge has transformed people physically who did not think they could ever do that many miles,” he says, “It’s been really inspiring seeing how many people have learned to be healthier mentally and physically.”  There have been so many moving stories of strength and transformation that a film is being produced to share these inspirational tales with others.

Participant Mandy Collins, who never thought of herself as an athlete before joining the challenge, appreciated that she could define goals for herself within parameters of the challenge. She encourages others to study the maps “because a big part of this challenge is maximizing your routes, so you don't end up doing extra miles.” 2021 challenge finisher Brittany Ward advises fellow participants to use all the help they can, emphasizing that receiving rides from friends and family to and from different trailheads was the “most important tool” she utilized. She never thought she’d actually complete the challenge, but during her third attempt, Brittany found the inner strength she did not know she had. “I learned I was capable of doing hard things,” she said, “I'm usually one who quits when things get hard.” Along with the memories and new friendships, Brittany’s BTC Finishers Cup is one of her most prized possessions. Completing the challenge would not have been possible without the support of her family and the challenge community.

Being immersed in the challenge community makes for a much more enjoyable experience, and a part of that togetherness involves being very conscientious about the impact of the challenge on the trail system. To ensure that the challenge does not adversely impact the landscape, Kirk coordinates with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Ridge to Rivers, a full-time trail crew of avid trail users that manage and maintain the Boise foothills trails. Hosts of the Boise Trail Challenge ask participants to take the Happy Trails Pledge which states, “I pledge to be mindful of my actions, friendly, and expect to see other folks around every corner. Each user on the trail is a fellow outdoor enthusiast. I pledge to be kind when I choose to interact with others.”

The small registration fee for the challenge supports Ridge to Rivers and fosters community with parties for participants. The funds collected have also gone toward developing a phone app for future challenges.

If you head to the foothills this summer to challenge yourself or support others, be sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen, and plan to go early in the morning or in the evening to keep yourself and your pets safe. While other times of year were considered for the challenge, summer is the most ideal for its longer days, and drier upper foothills trails.

To learn more about the Boise Trails Challenge and how to support Ridge to Rivers, visit:

PULL QUOTE PAGE 3: “We don’t talk about it as a race because it’s really a challenge against yourself”-  Kirk Cheney

  • Mandy Collins & Brittany Ward
  • *Use this one, larger image