Turn back if trail is muddy - this one tends to thaw out early in the day during the winter because of the direct sun exposure.
This very exposed 2-hour (or so) loop has a nice mixture of climbing and descending, with expansive views in all directions.
Dogs must be on leash, because it's in the wildlife management area. Bring plenty of water and sun protection.
Doing the loop counterclockwise as I've described it makes for a longer, more gradual climb and a shorter, steeper downhill back. There's always the option of doing it in reverse to spare your knees on the way down.
You'll find the the trailhead at the end of Highland Valley Road (off Warm Springs). There is a small parking area across from a residence with a red double-decker bus parked in the driveway.
From the trailhead, you'll come to the junction with Cobb Trail; stay to the right on the West Highland Valley Trail
. After about 1.75 miles, you'll reach the next junction for the East Highland Valley Rd
; take the left to leave the dirt road for the singletrack trail. You'll keep winding gradually but relentlessly up.
Around 2.5 miles, the East Highland Valley Rd
tees at Shaw Mountain or Ridge Rd
, a dirt road; take a left on it. The next intersection you'll reach is the junction with the Lucky Peak Trail #6
; stay to the left.
At about 3 miles, you'll hit the high point of the loop. It's (almost) all downhill from here!
In another half a mile, you'll come to another junction - the other end of the Cobb Trail; take the left and find yourself back on singletrack. You'll have gorgeous views of the Owyhee Range to the west across the Treasure Valley.
Continue on the Cobb trail until you find yourself back at the first junction of the Cobb Trail and East Highland Valley Rd
. Just before the junction there's a hairpin turn to the left and about 20 yards of steep uphill. Take a right at the junction, and you'll be back to your car in a few minutes.
Raptors year-round, meadowlarks and lupine April to May. I've heard coyotes on occasion.