Thursday, February 16, 2012

Try these winter hikes close to home in Boise

Wind River Pack Bridge, Salmon River Country

Bruneau Dunes!

ParkCenter Greenbelt Loop (click to enlarge)

Bown Crossing Loop (click to enlarge)
Hi all,

A friend of mine, Kirk Hall, gave a presentation Wednesday night at REI about some nice winter hiking destinations close to home. Kirk's theme was "Explore Your Neighborhood, Explore Your Community, Explore the World."

I thought I'd share his winter hiking ideas as my outdoor tip of the week. Some people are not skiers or snowshoers, and those of you who fit into this category are probably getting a bit of cabin fever!

1. Explore some walks in your neighborhood. Have you found some nice loop walks that you can do just by walking out your front door?

Two hikes that Kirk recommended are in Southeast Boise because that's where he lives.
  • One route starts and finishes in Bown Crossing, a very attractive place in SE Boise to visit for lunch or dinner. Bown Crossing happens to be located next to the Bethine Church Nature Trail along the Boise River. Kirk's route goes from Bown Crossing to the nature trail. Go west on the nature trail to a Greenbelt spur that takes you to ParkCenter Blvd. Cross ParkCenter at Gossamer Lane, and walk the sidewalks of Monterey and Portside to Victory Lane. Go right and walk several blocks to Law. Go left on Law, and left on Boise Avenue, and walk back to Bown Crossing. This route is about 2 miles or approximately 1 hour or less, depending on how fast you walk. See the map above.

  • ParkCenter - Greenbelt Loop. This route starts and finishes by Municipal Park or the Idaho Fish and Game Nature Center, take your pick. Go west on the Greenbelt to Warm Springs Golf Course, turn right at the fork, and take the big orange pedestrian bridge across to the ParkCenter area. Cross ParkCenter Blvd. by the traffic light at Mallard, walk around the ParkCenter Pond to Red Robin, cross ParkCenter, and then cross the West ParkCenter Bridge to return to the start. This route is about 1.75 miles in length or less than an hour. See the map above.
2. Try some hikes close to home. Kirk recommended exploring the new Marianne Williams Park, also near Bown Crossing. This is a super-cool new park that will be open officially later this year. It's almost as large as Julia Davis Park. It has paved and dirt pathways that wind next to a series of wetlands and the Boise River. Be sure to stay out of the way of construction activities.

Another hike that Kirk mentioned in this category was the Oregon Trail by Surprise Valley or the Oregon Trail by Bonneville Point, accessed from the Black's Creek I-84 Freeway exit. Both of these routes are described in detail in my guidebook, Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home.

A third hike that Kirk discussed is Daniels Creek, a trail that winds up a draw just past the turnoff to Dry Creek on Bogus Basin Road. See the map above.

3. Try some hikes within an hour's drive of Boise.
  • Celebration Park. I've written about this before, and it's in Boise Trail Guide. Great winter, spring and fall destination. Excellent for families and kids because of rock petroglyphs viewable from the parking lot.
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park. Fun destination for kids and families. The main dunes are 470 feet tall ... plenty high to climb around on for all ages and abilities.
  • Reynolds Creek Loop near Walter's Ferry, south of Nampa. This hike is featured in the Boise Trail Guide. Great winter, spring and fall destination.
  • Snake River Petroglyph Tour. This is a 12-mile hike on the south side of the Snake River starting from Swan Falls and hiking down to Wees Bar. It's also featured in the Boise Trail Guide.
4. Try some hikes a little farther out of town. One that Kirk suggested is Rapid River Trail, a very cool trail that can be accessed easily from U.S. 95 just south of Riggins. It's an out-and-back hike. Go to the fish hatchery and pick up the trail in that area and hike upstream as long as you want! The trail gets much steeper after it crosses the river 3+ miles up the trail.

Another dandy in the Riggins area is the Wind River Trail heading into the Gospel Hump Wilderness. Access is from the Wind River Pack Bridge, about 25 miles up the Salmon River Road from Riggins. I've skied Brundage on one day, and then gone for this hike the day after. This hike is especially nice in April when the grass is beginning to green up a low elevations.

Have fun!
- SS

No comments: