The Polecat Loop has become a dependable route for many trail users given its accessibility from town and ease of navigation. There are also a couple of bypass options on the Quick Draw Trail
or Doe Ridge Trail
to shorten the loop or vary the routing. Not to mention parking areas on each end of the loop off Collister Drive in the southwest or Cartwright Road in the northeast.
This loop hike circumnavigates Polecat Gulch on winding singletrack through classic Treasure Valley foothills that change dramatically with each season. Because this trail can be accessed on either end and traveled in either direction, this hike can be adapted for varying abilities or time constraints, with shorter options more easily accessed from the Cartwright Road trailhead, taking the trail counterclockwise toward the Doe Ridge Trail
and Quick Draw Trail
off of that.
For this routing, start at the parking area off Collister Drive and head northeast along the stem of this "lollipop-style" loop. At the first intersection, to head clockwise, turn left. For better or for worse, the hardest part of this hike starts basically right from the trailhead, with a sustained 1.5-mile climb to reach the high point of the whole hike.
Once the climb is complete, the trail character changes into a sidehill rollercoaster along the contours of Polecat Gulch. Luckily, most ups or downs aren't too steep or long, but also without too many long stretches of flat or straight to keep things interesting.
Given the 360-degree nature of the loop, you'll be afforded views across Treasure Valley and downtown at a number of points. To complete the entire loop as mapped here, stay left at all intersections except for the Polecat Loop N. Access
, which is a spur trail to the Cartwright Road parking area and keep your eyes on the Hiking Project mobile app
at any intersections you're not sure about, though signage is good.
Native grasses and forbs e.g. sagebrush, balsamroot, buckwheat.