Thursday, February 11, 2021

A hodgepodge of outdoorsy ideas for President's Day weekend - Big snow coming + Boise River hikes

Hi all, 

I've always been one of those people who goes with the flow when it comes to blending weather with outdoor activities, if you haven't noticed that yet ... 

And this weekend, if you're a snow person, you probably already know that we've got somemajor snow storms coming through Tuesday of next week. My post for the Idaho Daily Snow is headlined "Gonna be a Snowy President's Day weekend!" 

Look at these snow maps! Not all of this snow is going to come at once ... it's going to be 5-10 inches per day, depending on location, and it's going to keep coming every day through Tuesday, with a possible break between storms on Sunday.

Downhill skiers/riders should make their reservations online in advance if they haven't done so already. Here are the links to Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain, Tamarack Resort, and Sun Valley. Soldier Mountain, Magic Mountain or Pomerelle could be other options ... Magic and Pomerelle are forecast to be in the cross-hairs of the storm systems this weekend, with nearly 3 feet of snow expected by Monday. 

Snow forecast for the next 10 days ... 

Max snow quantities possible through next Thursday, Feb. 18 (Courtesy Weatherbell and 

Backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing should be excellent as well. Here's my post from a few weeks ago with more than 15 destinations on where to go for those activities. 

Please be safe out there and heed any avalanche warnings that may occur as the storms play out. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center will be a good source of information for the Wood River Valley, Stanley, Galena Summit, and the South Hills. Consult the Payette Avalanche Center for conditions in the West Central Mountains. 

And a little backcountry powder skiing footage from Sargant's Mountain near McCall ...

If you're not a snow person, it's going to be kind of rainy weekend in Boise, but there will be gaps in between the rain, especially on Sunday. 

So I'm also recommending a couple of walks along the Boise River. The R2R Trails will be muddy; please stay away! See R2R Facebook page for the latest conditions. 

Here's the map for the nature trail loop. Start at either Bown Crossing
or the East ParkCenter Bridge or by Barber Park in East Boise.

Barber Park -  Marianne Williams Park Loop

Many people have been aware of the nice gravel natural trail on the south side of the river that runs from Barber Park to the ParkCenter Greenbelt (three miles total one-way). The trail is a great place for wildlife-watching in general and eagle-watching in the winter, and it's a quiet place to go walking or running because the trail is not paved, and no bikes are allowed.

With the creation of the new Marianne Williams Park in East Boise, there is now a nature trail on the north side of the river as well. It also is lined by cottonwood trees the whole way, and the trail passes by a series of wetlands that will be chock full of bird life in a couple of months. About a mile from Eckert Road, the natural trail in Marianne Williams Park merges with a new section of paved Greenbelt and continues west to the East ParkCenter Bridge and continues west.

The nature trail loop on both sides of the river is a little less than 4 miles total. It takes at least an hour and a half at a casual pace. If you're watching for birds, it might take more like 2 hours. After you're finished, you can head over to Bown Crossing and have lunch, dinner or a beverage of choice at several different establishments including Flatbread Pizza and the Tavern. You're also close to Lucky 13 if you park at Barber Park off of Eckert Road.

If you want to go farther, keep going west under the East ParkCenter Bridge and continue another 2 miles or so to the big orange ParkCenter pedestrian bridge. Longer-distance runners may prefer to take the longer route.

Eagle Greenbelt Loop

Start either on the west end of the route and park by Bardenay or Nancy Merrill Park, or start over by Glenwood and park on the southeast side of the Boise River in the large parking lot next to the Greenbelt. 

It's 4.6 miles from Eagle Road to Glenwood Bridge, or about 9 miles round trip if you go the whole way. With the pedestrian bridge located about half way along the route, you can do a loop from there. Watch for wildlife during your walk! Beautiful area. 

Another option from Nancy Merrill Park is to cross the pedestrian bridge and take a walk upstream on Eagle Island. You can go for several miles in that area now. Pretty to talk by the river.

Here are some species you might see on your walk ... bring your binoculars for a better view:

    Wood duck 
  • Great blue herons. There's a large heron rookery on the south side of the river, just east of Bown Crossing. There must be about 15-20 nests in the rookery. The birds are beginning to move into the nests right now. You are virtually assured of seeing herons on your walk. Herons are fish-eaters.  
  • Kingfishers. You'll hear the tell-tale rat-tat-tat call of kingfishers as they dart across the Boise River. 
  • Red-winged blackbirds. You'll see the blackbirds moving into the wetland areas in the coming weeks. They love the cat-tail wetlands. 
  • Kestrels. I have seen many kestrels on the nature trail in recent weeks. They are pairing up, mating and establishing a cavity nest. See my video about our backyard kestrel nest box. Kestrels are the smallest member of the raptor family. Also known as "sparrow hawks." 
  • Red-tailed hawks frequent the area. They are a very common hawk in the Boise Foothills and the Boise Valley. They like to eat mice. I think there are several red-tailed hawk nests in the vicinity of the nature trail loop. 
  • Great-horned owls. There are several owl nests in the nature trail area on the south side of the river. These birds are very predatory in nature.
  • Wood ducks. The males are very showy in coloration. Watch for them on the river.  

Have fun!
- SS

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