Description: This is a moderate walk (2 to 2.5 miles roundtrip,~300 foot total elevation gain) at the north edge of the Hidden Springs community,with highlights being the primary (or only) populations of camas, Tolmie’s onion, and freckled milkvetch in the Boise Front. Much of the trail is heavy clay,so avoid when wet. This works well as an evening walk, especially as the daytime temperatures are heating up.

From the Dry Creek Road trailhead (on the south side of Dry Creek Road between Cartwright Road and Seamans Gulch Road),cross the road and follow the path that doubles back up the southwest-facing slope. Note the heavy clay soil of this slope,in contrast to the sandy soils that are more common in the Foothills. Most of our native wildflowers are not adapted to this soil type,so the slope is relatively bare or weedy,but there is a large population of an unusual onion as the path curves around to a northwest-facing slope. This is the only known locality for Tolmie’s onion (Allium tolmiei) in the Boise Front, additionally noteworthy in that our plants do not quite “fit” the existing descriptions of the recognized varieties.

The northwest-facing slope itself is a good example of relatively intact sagebrush-steppe habitat,with a nice selection of wildflowers. The common dandelion-like plant is sagebrush false-dandelion (Nothocalais troximoides); the leaves differ from similar plants in having undulating,untoothed margins. Another interesting plant is more noteworthy for its unusual common name than its flowers: bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata ssp. pallida),a distant relative of sandalwood.

Continue following Red Tail Trail as it doubles back to the east,recrossing both the northwest- and southwest-facing slopes. This part of the slope is much sandier than lower down,and the wildflowers are accordingly also different. Keep an eye out for distinctive native annuals,such as whitestem blazingstar (Mentzelia albicaulis) and threadleaf phacelia (Phacelia linearis). The lovely tufted evening-primrose (Oenothera cespitosa ssp. marginata) is scattered along the path (flowers closed midday),as is the only known population of freckled milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. chartaceus) in the Boise Front.

If you are lucky enough to catch the longspur or “polychrome” lupine (Lupinus arbustus) and arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) in bloom,you might wish to make a short side trip to the amazing display at the beginning of Bitterbrush Trail. Otherwise (or afterwards) continue north on Red Tail Trail,crossing the residential Deerpath and Sage Creek drives,and dropping down to Currant Creek. You are now on clay soils derived from volcanic rocks,with occasional outcrops of basalt. Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) is abundant here,as is butterfly biscuitroot (Lomatium papilioniferum) with its feathery,cilantro-scented leaves. Until very recently,butterfly biscuitroot was included in Gray’s biscuitroot (Lomatium grayii),until someone noticed that swallowtail butterflies would use one,but not the other,as a larval host plant. Subsequent molecular research confirmed what the butterflies already knew: that the two similar-looking plants are different species. Only butterfly biscuitroot occurs in this part of Idaho.

The special plant along the creek is the common camas (Camassia quamash). Scattered plants can also be found elsewhere on Currant Creek and Daniel Creek,but this by far the largest and most accessible population of this lovely wildflower. Although edible,please do NOT dig any up; there are too few for the number of people who might want to do the same,so leave them for everyone to enjoy. As with so many species in the Boise Front,our plants do not quite fit the existing descriptions of currently recognized varieties,and the leaves are a bit broader than elsewhere.

Depending on your timing and inclination,you can either retrace your steps to the trailhead,or alternatively follow the path west along the north side of tree-lined Currant Creek,crossing the bridge over a wonderfully sculpted basalt stream bed,and returning via the south side of Lookout Loop. Among the more interesting creekside plants that are likely to be in bloom in May are starry Solomon’s-seal (Maianthemum stellatum) and upland yellow violet (Viola praemorsa).

PLANT LIST [needs updating]

NOTE: Please enjoy the wildflowers and leave them for others to enjoy.  Because our unique local flora is already under pressure from invasive weeds and habitat loss, harvesting of native plants is not encouraged on this website, especially along popular trails.

Download plant list pdf

Plants are listed within categories in likely order of occurrence from trailhead; some might not yet be in bloom,or present during a particular year. * indicates native species



SHRUBS AND TREES (mostly not in bloom)

PRIMARY BUNCHGRASSES (mostly not in bloom,but evident)