Page 14 - 2012_fall_issue

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of Fish and Game stocks thousands of
rainbow trout in the waters each month.
During the last five decades, old gravel
pit ponds along the Boise River, dug to
supply gravel for highways and other
development, have been restored with
vegetation. They’ve been reborn as fishing
holes, paddling places for canoeists and
kayakers, and swimming holes for
local kids.
Going Green
Before the 1960s, Boise was like many
other towns that considered their rivers
working waterways. The Boise River was
a dumping ground for trash, industrial
waste and raw sewage. I’ve heard
stories of the river running red with
waste dumped by meatpacking plants.
That’s unimaginable now, thanks to
enlightened city officials, business lead-
ers and citizens who saw the value of the
river as a city amenity and a necessity for
healthy fish and wildlife populations.
In 1962, the city hired a consultant to
create Boise’s first comprehensive plan. The
plan recommended the “city should acquire
land along the Boise River to create a con-
tinuous ‘green belt’ of public lands stretch-
ing the entire length of the community.”
City leaders were surprised at how
popular the plan was with residents.
Empowered by the greenbelt vision,
citizens led grassroots efforts to clean up
the river system and create public access.
Members of civic organizations gave slide-
shows of natural areas along the river and
promoted the idea of forming a greenbelt.
Soon the vision had gained wide sup-
port, and three small parcels of riverfront
land were donated to the city. One of
the earliest Greenbelt sections, a 43-acre
parcel from the Taubman Corp. on the
north side of the river east of Americana
Boulevard, was donated in 1966.
Three of Boise’s parks—Ann
Morrison, Julia Davis and Municipal—
turned out to be key areas for the
Greenbelt because they are right along
the Boise River. A primary goal was to
link them with the Greenbelt path.
Public interest and support for the
Boise River Greenbelt grew in the late
’60s, and the Boise Board of Parks
Commission adopted the first Greenbelt
Plan and Guidelines. A Greenbelt and
Pathways Committee was appointed in
The Boise River
Greenbelt is accessible frommajor
streets in Boise, Garden City and Eagle
up to Lucky Peak Reservoir. Boise is
accessible by plane frommajor cities
and on Interstate Highway 84. It is about
halfway between Portland, Ore., and
Salt Lake City.
Download a trail map and other
information from
You’ll also find an interactive GIS map
, Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy’s free trail-finder website.
The Greenbelt is a mixture of asphalt
and gravel. Parts, especially in areas
where there is a lot of bird nesting, are
designed for walking but are off-limits
for bicycling.
A great way to
see the core of the Boise Greenbelt is a
six-mile outing starting in Ann Morrison
Park near Americana Boulevard on the
south side of the river. (There’s parking at
the park.) Cross the Pioneer Footbridge
and head east on the north side of the
river about three miles to the Baybrook
Court Footbridge at ParkCenter. Then,
cross the river and come back on the
south side of the river. Along the way you
can visit the Idaho Anne Frank Human
Rights Memorial near the historic South
Eighth Street Bridge (also called the
Ninth Street Bridge) built in 1907.
If you get hungry, you can stop
for a burger and microbrew at the
Ram Restaurant and Brewery, on the
Greenbelt just east of the Broadway
Bridge on the north side of the river.
Just upstream from the Ram is the MK
Nature Center, maintained by the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game. The center
has an underwater stream display where
trout swim by, and a pond is stocked with
sturgeon. In late summer and early fall,
you’ll find Chinook and kokanee salmon
at the center.
McU Sports (
; 208.342.7734) has two loca-
tions in Boise, including a downtown
shop less than a mile from the trail.
Cruisers are $25 for a full day, $15 for a
half. Mountain or road bikes rent for $30
for a full day or $20 for a half. All rentals
come with helmet and lock.
Between Boise State
University and the Greenbelt’s location
through the heart of the city, options
abound for lodging right along the
corridor. The Boise Metro Chamber of
Commerce (
208.472.5200), which happens to be a
couple blocks from the trail near Julia
Davis Park, is a good place to start.