by Chelsea Chambers, photos by Mark Dyrud
When Boise wakes up to summer, it is nearly reflexive to jump on a bike and hit the Greenbelt trails for a day in the sun. The 25 mile stretch of paths twists and turns around the heart of Idaho, the Boise River. It spans from Garden City to Barber Park, with dozens of amazing stops along the way. No matter which route you take, the beauty of Idaho is guaranteed to inspire, to calm, and to liven the senses.
Starting from the Northwest side of the Greenbelt in Garden City, cyclers, skaters, and travelers of all kind are blessed with the serenity of the river as it rushes through the tranquil, forested lands in the city of trees. Early in the morning, this side of the Greenbelt doesn’t see much traffic and the air is peaceful and slow as the journey begins toward downtown.
The path leads up a hill and around to Veteran’s Park, established in 1997 as a memorial for veterans and as a tribute to recreation. In 2009, over 80 new trees were planted in the area and the lush foliage continues to flourish throughout the park. Coming down the shaded hill into Veteran’s Park, travelers are met with a rush of green as the dense leaves pack the sky and give way to the sunlight overhead. Veteran’s Pond is a perfect place to picnic and swim as the large body of water spans a vast portion of the park. The Farmer’s Market recently collaborated with the City of Boise and Parks & Recreation to create the Mobile Market, which stops by the park on Wednesdays between 11 and 1:30. The Mobile Market delivers fresh fruits and veggies for the perfect picnic.
Just beyond Veteran’s Park lies Bernadine Quinn Riverside Park, home of the 22 acre Quinn’s Pond, which is annually stocked by Parks and Rec to make Quinn’s Pond a famous hub for local fisherman. The area is shared by the Boise River Park, which is an amazing spot to grab your kayak and ride the rapids. Or if you’re looking for a more relaxing stay at Quinn’s Pond, stop into Idaho River Spots and grab a paddleboard. Rentals are extremely affordable and the pond is also the place to be for various water yoga and exercise classes.
Hunger is imminent and luckily The Sandbar Patio & Grill is just a short jaunt up the Greenbelt, overlooking the river by the Riverside Hotel. We highly recommend stopping in for some live music and the always satisfying quinoa burger with avocado spread—an energizing lunch for a day in the sun.
As the Greenbelt continues, it runs through some amazing spots—including 153 acre Anne Morrison Park—to stop and stretch your legs or take a refreshing dip in the river. Two places travelers shouldn’t pass by are The Boise Public Library and Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The idea for the Boise library has been in the making since 1895 but has moved all over the city for decades. In 1973, the city renovated the building where the library is currently. The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was inspired by Anne Frank’s unwavering faith in humanity and now boasts a 180 foot quote wall that catalogs history through the beauty of the written word.
Crossing under Capitol Boulevard, the Greenbelt opens up to Julia Davis Park, 89 acres of history and recreation that includes the aesthetically and intellectually alluring Boise Art Museum, Idaho Historical Museum, Zoo Boise, Idaho Black History Museum, and The Discovery Center.
If time allots, we recommend making time to stop in to all of these iconic pieces of the city. They house both the history and the evolution of Idaho. Located in the middle of the park is the beautiful Rose Garden which holds an enamoring amount of colors and fragrances, perfect for a relaxing stop before continuing your ride down the Greenbelt.
Spending a day on the Greenbelt can be exhausting and it is vital to stay hydrated and nourished. Thankfully, just a short ride past Julia Davis Park and travelers are met with an abundance of places to eat, drink, and recharge. The Ram Restaurant & Brewery has some of the best food in town along with a beautiful patio overlooking the Greenbelt and Boise River. Don’t miss out on their Vampire Fries, drizzled with fresh garlic oil and chopped garlic—a helpful deterrent to those pesky mosquitos on your ride back home. The Boise Greenbelt has not only given us our namesake but also provides all of Boise with miles of beautiful pathways to get out and enjoy nature as it is intended to be.