ON THE GREENBELT
On the Greenbelt
Copyright © 2016 David Proctor
P.O. 834, Carlton OR 97111
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form by any means, without prior permission of the publisher.
Composition and editing by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon.
Cover design and art work by Ridenbaugh Press.
Cover photo by David Proctor.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
A Historical Tour of the Boise Greenbelt
1. Boise, Idaho. 2. Idaho-History. I. Title.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Boise River Greenbelt is one of the city’s major points of pride, and deservedly so. Its creation was a major achievement, it sets an example for cities across the country and it has become the sparkling chain upon which hang the city’s “Ribbon of Jewels” – an enviable and still-growing park system that helps make Boise one of the most livable cities in America.
And to the great credit of all concerned, the Greenbelt no longer stops at the Boise city limits or with the Boise city parks. It is now possible to travel from its most eastern point, Lucky Peak State Park in Ada County, west through Boise, Garden City and the city of Eagle to State Highway 44. With these additions to Boise’s original path, the Greenbelt now measures 21 miles end to end and comprises 57 miles of trail on both sides of the river, including all access roads and divided paths.
The ultimate dream of many Greenbelt supporters is to extend the path west all the way to the Snake River, though the shorter-term goal of the Boise River Trail Foundation is Eagle Island State Park.
Since the idea was conceived in the early 1960s, the Greenbelt has become an integral part of life in the greater Boise area. Its paved paths offer access to the river, a wide variety of parks that offer everything from shade for naps to kayaking, from a non-motorized commute to exercise stations and playgrounds. There are also history lessons along the path for walkers, runners, cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders and those in wheelchairs. For walkers and runners there are also unpaved pathways through natural areas that feature abundant wildlife.
As an adjunct to the book A Pathway of Dreams, what we offer here is a travel guide to this exceptional path system, a system much-loved by users but one that is not always as easy to navigate as it may appear. The Greenbelt, after all, is part of a growing and changing Ada County. In the course of its construction and expansion, accommodations had to be made – and continue to be made – for such things as the course of the river and its channels, existing property uses, construction projects, roadways, the safety of its users and the desires of the municipalities through which it runs. The changes can come quickly, which can result in a bit of an adventure for someone unfamiliar with all the options the Greenbelt trails offer.
For instance, in 2016 there are large construction projects at Americana Boulevard, between Ann Morrison and Kathryn Albertson parks, and on Broadway Avenue west of Julia Davis Park. Esther Simplot Park, which looks to be spectacular, is also under construction. Look in the sections that describe each park for more details on these projects.
On the other hand, considering the enormous exertion and uncounted volunteer hours it took the Greenbelt pioneers to begin the pathway in Boise, there are relatively few scars left behind to remind us of the real effort those visionaries put behind this beloved amenity. Like a person with a great skill, the Greenbelt makes it look as if it came about easily. It didn’t.
One way to make any Greenbelt journey easier is to use a map. There are two good ones, and both are available either online or in print form. Copies of the Boise Parks & Recreation Greenbelt map, which illustrates Boise’s path, are at several locations including Boise Parks & Recreation, 1104 Royal Blvd., near Ann Morrison Park. Information is at 608-7600. Or the map can be downloaded at
https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/228316/15%E2%80%930701-greenbelt-map-lo.pdf. The Ada County Highway District bike map, which is larger, includes roadways and follows the Greenbelt in Ada County, Boise, Garden City and Eagle. It is also generally available, including at the ACHD office, 3775 Adams Street, Garden City. Information is at 387-6100. This map can be downloaded at http://www.achdidaho.org/Community/Docs/2015ACHDBikeMapFINAL.pdf.
This guide to the Boise River Greenbelt is divided into two parts – the path on the north side of the river and that on the south side. Those two parts are divided by subheadings that describe distinct sections of the path.
It is important to understand that it is not possible to cycle – or do anything but walk or run – the entire length of the Greenbelt on either side of the river. Two parts of the pathway – the Bethine Church River Trail in Boise on the south side and the Garden City path on the north side – are pedestrian-only nature trails, and Kathryn Albertson Park prohibits all vehicles. Through the River Run portion, cyclists can stay on the south side and traverse the subdivision’s streets. In Garden City, cyclists on the north side must cross the river to the south side.
Our journey will begin at the farthest point east– Lucky Peak State Park – and proceed on the north side to Eagle and State Highway 44. On the south side it will begin at Barber Park east of Boise and end along the river’s south channel in Eagle.
Lucky Peak to Goodwin Dam
Lucky Peak State Park, 9725 E. Highway 21, was created by the Lucky Peak Dam, which was completed in 1955. The park is located 8 miles southeast of Boise and comprises three units. Sandy Point, at the base of the dam, is a swimming area, and Discovery is a roadside park. Spring Shores marina is located 11 miles from the park.
More information is at
From the Lucky Peak to Eckert Road, location of Barber Park, is about 6 miles. The path out of the park carries you along the Boise River and is divided from traffic on Warm Springs Road.
The first of a series of historical markers along the Greenbelt describes the Foote House. Located across the river, it was the home of author and illustrator Mary Hallock Foote and her husband, engineer Arthur Foote. Mary became well known nationally for her writings and drawings of Boise and the West. Arthur’s dream was to use the Boise River to irrigate the valley. His efforts eventually resulted in the New York Canal, which allowed the Boise River valley to bloom. You can see it at https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975728/Foote-Sign-NEW-small.pdf
Diversion Dam is where the New York Canal begins. There is another informational marker there, and it is where the painted DOTS mileage markers begin. More information is available at https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975748/small-Diversion-Dam-FINAL-draft-for-review.pdf
As described in (A Pathway of Dreams), for his Eagle Scout project Josh Taylor in 2001, planned and created the Distance and Orientation Trail System. DOTS locates the user anywhere along the path. Taylor and his volunteers painted a series of 20-inch white dots every tenth of a mile along the Greenbelt near and within Boise city. Inside the dots are black numbers and letters that correspond with their distance from the 8th Street pedestrian bridge and the side of the river on which the traveler is located. Though some DOTS have been worn away or otherwise obscured, they offer a pretty reliable guide to your location along the river.
Diversion Dam is 8.9 NE, which places it on the north side of the river and 8.9 miles east of the 8th Street Bridge.
Just before the common entrance to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation – at 6.7 NE – is , which played a major role in the extension of the Greenbelt beyond Boise. There is no river access at Shakespeare and IDPR, 5657 Warm Springs Avenue, but the Barber Pool Reserve is located behind them. Please observe all the signs and stay on the marked paths.
Just beyond, you may have to navigate the construction associated with the Harris Ranch developments.
IMPORTANT: Look for the store at Mill Station, on the southwest corner of Eckert Road and Warm Springs Avenue. There is no Greenbelt sign, but turn left here and head south, back toward the river. This path will take you through Marianne Williams Park, 3451 E. Barber Valley Drive. The branch of the path that continues along Warm Springs Road is poorly maintained and overgrown with weeds. Not recommended.
Marianne Williams is one of the parks Boise refers to as the “Ribbon of Jewels.” This string of parks on both sides of the river, all named after women, extends to Esther Simplot Park west of Main Street. More information is available at https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/marianne-williams-park/
At mile marker 4.2 NE you will be back on the main path.
The remnants of the Goodwin Dam is beneath Warm Springs Mesa. The dam, built by Moses Goodwin in 1883 as part of a lumber mill, is at 3.4 NE. More information is available at https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975768/GoodwinDam.pdf
Warm Springs Golf Course to Julia Davis Park
The Boise City portion of the Greenbelt begins just before the Warm Springs Golf Course, 2495 E. Warm Springs Avenue. https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/warm-springs-golf-course Boise maintains 25 miles of pathway, from the golf course to Glenwood Street on the north side, and on the south side from near Barber Park to the Main Street Bridge.
It is an easy path to Municipal Park, 500 S. Walnut Street, but here there is another fork. To stay near the river and away from cars, take the left (south) fork as you enter the park. To stay straight is to end up in the near-downtown traffic of Parkcenter Boulevard. It is possible to get back to the river from there, but it is not a recommended route. However, the Laura Moore Cunningham Arboretum [+ https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/laura-moore-cunningham-arboretum+] is along the north path and is beautiful during growing season.
Municipal – at 1.5 NE – is 28 acres and was the first of Boise’s urban parks. Opened in 1918 as Boise Tourist Park, https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975753/BoiseTouristCamp.pdf
it was taken over by the city in 1938. Nearby, where the Idaho Fish and Game headquarters now sits and near the popular MK Nature Center, http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/education/?getPage=234, was the location of Airway Park, https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/984516/AirwayParkFramed.pdf
home of Boise’s minor league Pilots, Yankees and Braves until 1964.
Under the Broadway Bridge, is Julia Davis Park. However, that access will be different during the bridge’s reconstruction. Follow the protected pathway and detour signs to Park Boulevard, across Broadway to Myrtle Street, then back to the Greenbelt at Julia Davis Park. There is a good information and links to two maps at [+ https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/greenbelt/greenbelt-construction/+]
Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Boulevard, is one of the brightest jewels on Boise’s ribbon and a destination all by itself. The park was created in 1907 when Thomas Jefferson Davis, one of Boise’s founders, donated 40 acres of his orchards in honor of his wife. Julia Davis had died that year at age 60 after she assisted a traveler who may have had typhoid fever. https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975763/DavisOrchard.pdf. There have been additional land donations, and the park now comprises almost 90 acres.
The park’s attractions include the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, the Idaho Black History Museum, Zoo Boise, the Idaho Rose Society garden, the Gene Harris Bandshell, the Children’s Cancer Pavilion, the Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza, a larger-than-life Abraham Lincoln statue, pioneer cabins, a short walking exhibit that honors Lewis and Clark’s voyage of discovery, a playground as well as a pond with paddleboats for rent.
A sculpture that honors Julia Davis is located southeast of the rose garden. Free docent tours are available on First Thursdays at 4 p.m., May through September.
Boise State University is visible across the river and accessible from Julia Davis Park via the Bob Gibb Friendship Bridge, built in 1980, or by crossing the Broadway Avenue bridge on the east end or the Capitol Boulevard bridge on the west.
Capitol Boulevard to Riverside Park
Formally known as the Oregon Trail Memorial Bridge, the west side of Capitol Boulevard is https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975733/June-19-small-Capitol-Bridge-layout-w-text.pdf accessible by tunnel. Immediately on the other side are the Boise Public Library! and the Cabin literary center. Behind the Cabin is the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, 770 S. 8th Street, a site well worth a stop.
Ann Morrison Park is on the south side of the river and can be reached from the north side most easily by a pedestrian bridge in the center of the park. The bridge also connects to the Pioneer Walk route. The busy Capitol or the relatively less-traveled Americana boulevards also offer access.
Though fewer than 2 acres in size, Shoreline Park, 1375 W. Shoreline Drive, is indispensable to the Greenbelt story. On July 22, 1975, it became the point of origin for the Boise River Greenbelt when city and state officials dedicated the first section of the pathway where formerly stood the W.E. Clements & Sons Concrete Co.
The tunnel there was created because it was easier to drill through and grass over the piles of discarded cement than to remove it all. For a little evidence, glance at the riverbank under the gazebo and along the little boardwalk.
A marker set into a large stone just east of the tunnel commemorates the Greenbelt pioneers, to whom we all owe a great deal. City Council member, legislator and Greenbelt coordinator Bill Onweiler was one of the earliest and loudest of the Greenbelt advocates. The William Onweiler Pathway starts at Capitol Boulevard on the north side of the river and extends a mile west to Shoreline Park.
Another crucial part of the Greenbelt’s development and success, this one unmarked, occurred at what is now the Cottonwood Suites. In its initial incarnation the motel was the International Dunes and later the Shiloh Inn. In 1974, the Dunes owners built a swimming pool that encroached into the Greenbelt setback, which was by then a well-established city zoning regulation. When the owners applied for an after-the-fact zoning variance, the city government said no. The motel sued in district court and argued the setback was unconstitutional. The complaint was dismissed, and the owners not only had to move the pool, they had to build Greenbelt access from their parking lot.
Riverside Park, 1775 W. Shoreline Drive, is on the other side of Americana Boulevard and just before the Fairview Avenue Bridge. Better known as the Firefighters Memorial, the 5-acre park, opened Aug. 17, 2008, and honors Idaho’s fallen firefighters. On the west side of the park is the Idaho World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial dedicated to the first responders who died on September 11, 2001. It includes a beam from the World Trade Center and was completed on September 11, 2014.
Quinn’s Pond to Willow Lane
Under the Fairview Avenue Bridge, you are now out of Boise’s urban core, and the path becomes less populated as you head west. There is also a series of water attractions within a two-mile stretch.
The first is Quinn’s Pond. The current parking – the former location of Bob Rice Ford – now has a sign at its entrance, which makes it easier to find. It is public parking, and but there is a Boise Parks & Recreation sign closer to the pond itself. Access to the pond from Whitewater Park Boulevard will be available when construction there is complete. Check the website below for the latest parking information.
Its full title is the Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park. It is another of Boise’s jewels and is the home of the popular 22-acre Quinn’s Pond. There is a wheelchair-accessible dock for swimmers and small non-motorized watercraft, as well as shoreline near the path.
Boise River Park, 3900 W. Pleasanton Avenue, opened in 2012 after 12 years of work and planning. It features two state-of-the-art waveshapers and is primarily used by kayakers and wakeboarders. The dam, named for Harry Morrison of Morrison-Knudsen renown, features pneumatically operated air bladders that inflate to elevate stainless steel flashboards. Raising and lowering the flashboards controls upstream water levels. At normal river flows, the adjustable waveshapers create an approximately 20-foot-wide primary wave and a longer 25-foot secondary wave. The addition of lochs, boulders and other water obstacles; lawn seating and takeout areas is planned for 2019.
The 36th Street footbridge across the river there allows access to Garden City. From there it is 0.8 miles to Veterans Parkway, where you can continue on the south side or cross back to the north side.
Almost adjacent to Quinn’s is Esther Simplot Park. Located at 625 N. Whitewater Park Boulevard, it is the final jewel on the city’s ribbon. The park is under construction but holds great promise. Funded by the J.R. Simplot Foundation, plans for the 55-acre site include trails, docks, wetlands, boardwalks, shelters, grassy open areas, a playground, bridges and restrooms. Its two ponds, which total 17 acres, will be suitable for fishing, wading and swimming, and will connect with Quinn’s Pond. There have been construction delays – crews found industrial debris as they excavated – but look for it to open in late summer or early fall 2016.
And immediately next door to Esther Simplot, Boise Cascade Lake is open for fishing during the season and is a popular spot for those who want to access their inner Tarzan by using the rope on the north side of the lake to get a little air time. It can be reached through Veterans Memorial State Park.
Veterans Memorial State Park, at 930 N. Veterans Memorial Parkway, is maintained by the city of Boise and sits just to the north of the Greenbelt. The park was the original home of the Idaho State Veterans Home and contains a variety of memorials including to those who died at Pearl Harbor, Wake Island survivors, Vietnam prisoners of war and those missing in action, veterans of the Korean War, and to Desert Storm veterans.
There are also walking trails that range from a third of a mile to a full mile, as well as a playground and restrooms.
Under Veterans Parkway, between 3.0 NW and 3.1 NW, the Greenbelt passes next to the attractively landscaped Lander Street Wastewater Treatment Plant. Like Shoreline Park, Lander Street is an often-overlooked but essential part in Greenbelt history. Until the treatment system was created, Boiseans used the river as their sewer. Only after the plant was established, and its use mandated, did the Boise River become attractive enough to motivate the general population to get behind a greenbelt.
Lander Street is now one of two Boise treatment plant and runs at approximately 13 million gallons per day.
Less than a mile from Veterans Park, Willow Lane Park & Athletic Complex, at 4623 W. Willow Lane, is a 57-acre park that features several softball fields, a soccer field, playground, restrooms and water, a dirt jump park and concessions when games are in progress. There is also a wetland project south of the fields near the Boise River.
Garden City to Eagle
Past Willow Lane, after the 4.4 NW marker, the Greenbelt enters Garden City and a new jurisdiction for the pathway. About a mile past Willow Lane, the Greenbelt path on the north side of the river ends until the Garden City West Bridge more than two miles west. Garden City, in its wisdom and after years of legal and political battles, established the north-side Greenbelt as nature trail for pedestrians only. A new pedestrian bridge allows cyclists to cross the river to the south side at 4.8 NW.
It is only a coincidence, surely, that the nature trail runs between some of Garden City’s most expensive homes and the river, while the north side bike trail bypasses those homes and routes the hoi polloi partly behind the Expo Idaho horse barns.
As you continue to head west, there are two possible routes through Garden City, and it can get confusing.
Your first decision is whether to continue on the south side of the river or cross back to the north.
The south side is less complicated. The north side involves crossing the Glenwood Bridge and riding on the streets of Riverside Village. Glenwood is a major traffic artery, but there are bike lanes and tunnels under the bridge.
If you follow the south-side path, you can cross back to the north side on the Garden City West Bridge about 1 ½ miles west of Glenwood. http://rvhoa.org/WestBridge.html. The south-side route to the bridge will carry you through residential areas, past the Mosley Boys and Girls Club, the LDS Cannery and a Garden City pocket park.
At the Garden City West Bridge, you have a more choices. In no particular order:
1. Continue on the south side of the river, though options there are limited. At this point, the Boise River splits into two main channels. The south-side path follows the South Channel. It is a pleasant ride but dead-ends about 1.5 miles from the bridge.
2. Double back the way you came on the south side.
3. Cross the bridge to the north side and go to west to Eagle or back east through Garden City and Riverside Village.
A. To go west, once across the bridge, follow the short path and at the end take a sharp left to enter Eagle.
B. The right fork of that same path, which is nearly straight ahead, will take you to the Garden City streets detailed below.
The route from there to Glenwood can be seen at http://www.rvhoa.org/. You will start at the gate to the River Bend subdivision. Take Saltana Drive away from River Bend and look carefully for the small green Greenbelt signs. They will take you to Ulmer Lane, Wakefield Street, Arney Lane and West Riverside Drive. Follow West Riverside Drive more than a mile to Glenwood.
If you reach Glenwood headed west and choose to cross back to the north side, you will be off the Greenbelt path and on Riverside Village streets. Use the reverse of the route described above. Follow West Riverside Drive for more than a mile and look carefully for the small green Greenbelt signs. They will take you from West Riverside to Arney Lane, Wakefield Street, Ulmer Lane and Saltana Drive to the River Bend subdivision. There, to the right of the gated River Bend entrance, almost hidden by the greenery, is a Greenbelt sign.
If you choose the left fork of the path behind the sign, it will take you to the new Garden City West Bridge and the south side of the river. (See details above) If you take the right fork, you enter the city of Eagle’s Greenbelt.
There is Garden City Greenbelt information at http://www.gardencityidaho.org/index.asp?SEC=543211CF-4F1D-4B71-A4B3-EC00B1FF03EA&Type=B_BASIC and a Greenbelt map at http://www.gardencityidaho.org/vertical/sites/%7BA16794C5-94AE-4C54-B8E9-ADC537012C3F%7D/uploads/%7B4C73333B-A300-476C-AF56-3199FAC8B0A8%7D.JPG
Eagle to Highway 44
The city of Eagle is the newest member of the Greenbelt community, and its relatively undeveloped paths reflect the fact that it started some 40 years after Boise. The Eagle Greenbelt path that follows the North Channel is a combination of paved and dirt and carries you past exclusive homes built around a private lake, swimming holes, the Reid W. Merrill, Sr. Community Park at 637 E. Shore Drive, and to a final stretch where the path is routed away from the river and separated from a residential area by a fence. You will start to parallel Highway 44/State Street at 10.7 NW, and the path comes to a dead end, about a mile later, at State Highway 44/State Street.
Eagle Island State Park, the goal of the Boise River Trail Foundation, is just over a half-mile away but not yet connected to the Greenbelt.
As noted above, the south path, along the South Channel of the Boise River, is a nice ride but ends without access to another route.
It is possible to inadvertently get off the proper north-channel path in Eagle and find yourself on some gnarly side trails that will challenge an average mountain biker. For most people, the best plan is to stay on pavement or well-traveled dirt.
Eagle does not yet have a Greenbelt map. Recreation officials recommend the larger map from the Ada County Highway District mentioned above. http://www.achdidaho.org/Community/Docs/2015ACHDBikeMapFINAL.pdf.
Barber Park to Boise State University
The journey west on the south side of the Greenbelt begins at Barber Park, 4049 S. Eckert Rd. There is an interactive map at http://gisx.adaweb.net/BarberParkMap/
Created in 1972, this is the most popular launch spot for the 125,000 people who float the 6-mile stretch of river from Barber to Ann Morrison parks in inner tubes and rafts every year.
During the float season – Memorial Day through Labor Day – the parking fee is $5 during the week and $6 on weekends and holidays. Tubes and equipment can be rented there or brought from home. A shuttle service from Ann Morrison Park is also available. https://adacounty.id.gov/Portals/0/PrkWW/Doc/Boise%20River%20Floater%20Map.pdf
Barber Park is also the home of the Barber Park Education and Event Center. For more details about the park: https://adacounty.id.gov/Parks-Waterways/Barber-Park
For more history on the old town of Barber: https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975743/small-Barber-sign-FINAL-draft-for-review.pdf
Note: There is a paved path east of Barber Park. It is maintained by the city of Boise, but it is not part of the Greenbelt. It starts on Amity Road, which is up the hill from Barber Park and across the bridge over the New York Canal. It extends almost 2 miles through Surprise Valley to State Highway 21. So it is possible for a non-motorized traveler to use existing trails to go from Highway 21 east of Boise all the way to Highway 44 in Eagle. Again, a map is helpful for this section.
The Barber Observation Point is along this path at 6300 S. Surprise Way. The 2-acre site overlooks the Barber Pool Conservation area mentioned above. https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/barber-observation-point/
Greenbelt access is west through the Barber Park parking lot. Look for the trail map because the path divides at the new East ParkCenter Bridge.
The 1.6-mile unpaved portion that follows the river is the Bethine Church River Trail, one of Boise’s “Ribbon of Jewels.” It is part of a 24-acre natural area and is for pedestrians only. This is a beautiful stretch of the river and is highly recommended.
The paved portion of the Greenbelt path takes you through the high-end River Run subdivision. Follow the bike path west nearly 2 miles. At Baggley Park, 1410 E. Parkcenter Boulevard, do not take East Pennsylvania Street or you will end up in city traffic and headed away from the river. Stay right (north) and at the end of River Run Drive stay right again, look for the sign, and you will meet the river across from Warm Springs Golf Course.
The path follows the river, through ParkCenter and past the Parkcenter Park on your left.
Boise State University to Kathryn Albertson Park
Normally, you would travel under the Broadway Bridge to Boise State University. http://www.boisestate.edu/. But during the reconstruction of the bridge, you must take the detour at Leadville Avenue, to Belmont Street and across Broadway – which is closed to traffic there. Once through the campus you will be back on the Greenbelt. More information and access to two maps is at https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/greenbelt/greenbelt-construction/.
The original Boise Airport was located about where Albertson Stadium now sits. https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975813/USAirmail.pdf
Past the dorms, academic buildings, the Bob Gibbs Friendship Bridge to Julia Davis Park, and the Morrison Center is the tunnel under Capitol Boulevard or Oregon Trail Memorial Bridge. https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975733/June-19-small-Capitol-Bridge-layout-w-text.pdf.
Where the 9th Street Bridge was built was the site of the McClellan Ferry, at the time the only transportation across the river. The price for a man or a horse was fifty cents, but hogs and sheep were only five cents apiece. https://parks.cityofboise.org/media/975788/McClellanFerry.pdf
At 153 acres, Ann Morrison Park, 1000 N. Americana Boulevard, is the largest jewel on Boise’s ribbon. https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/ann-morrison-park/ Land for the park was donated by Harry Morrison in honor of his late wife, and the park was largely built in 1959 by Morrison-Knudsen employees.
Ann and Harry Morrison were married from 1914 until she died of leukemia in October 1957. Known as “The First Lady of Construction,” Ann was Harry’s constant companion during his travels around the world. She began as a bookkeeper for Morrison-Knudsen and later wrote her recollections for The Em-Kayan magazine in a column titled “Those Were the Days.”
Ann Morrison Park is home to a large water fountain, gardens; Candy Cane Playground; tennis courts; lighted softball diamonds; soccer, cricket and football fields; a birding trail; a disc golf course; a precision sun dial; horseshoe courts; a volleyball court; walking paths; a self-guided tree walk; an outdoor gym; a picnic pavilion and open space that has been used for a variety of large functions such as concerts and hot-air balloon launchings. From 1990 to 2003 it was the site of parts of the Boise River Festival.
The deer sculpture north of the fountain was commissioned by Velma Morrison, Harry Morrison’s second wife. It was dedicated on July 4, 2009, during the fifty-year celebration of the park.
There is no tunnel on the south side of the river beneath Americana Boulevard to the stunning Kathryn Albertson Park, at 1001 N. Americana Boulevard, though there is a stoplight there. https://parks.cityofboise.org/parks-locations/parks/kathryn-albertson-park/
Work has begun, though, to connect the Greenbelt on the south side. In November 2015, Boise announced it would construct a pathway from Ann Morrison Park to the Garden City portion of the path near Joe’s Crab Shack. The work is scheduled to be finished in September 2016.
The path would include a pedestrian bridge over Settlers Canal, use of the existing tunnel under Americana Boulevard, a path between Kathryn Albertson park and the Boise River under the trestle bridge east of the Connector, a pathway under the Connector, a tunnel under Fairview Avenue, a tunnel under Main Street and a path to Garden City.
Kathryn Albertson Park is the last of the “Ribbon of Jewels” on the south side of the river. The 41-acre site, formerly a soggy horse pasture, is now a wildlife haven seemingly within a stone’s throw of downtown Boise. No vehicles are permitted, and leashed dogs are allowed only July 1 to February 28.
The park was dedicated October 17, 1989, by donors Joe and Kathryn Albertson and contains some subtle pieces of history. The red tile roof over the Rookery gazebo is the original roof from Joe Albertson’s first supermarket, which opened in Boise in 1939. The beams that support the roof are from an airport hangar previously located where Boise State University now stands, and once visited by Charles Lindbergh.
Less subtle is the cross section of ponderosa pine adjacent to The Rookery. When it was cut it was believed to be the world’s oldest of its species, about 376 years old.
Educational opportunities abound throughout this outdoor classroom. It also provides a popular setting for family photographs and weddings, birding opportunities and a series of walkways that offer a chance reconnect with nature without leaving the city.
Kathryn Albertson Park to the South Channel of the Boise River
The Greenbelt does not continue through Kathryn Albertson Park. To reconnect with the path, cross the river at Americana Boulevard to the north side.
From that side there is a bike/pedestrian path south to Orchard Street. Take the bridge just prior to the I-184 Connector and follow the bike path up the hill.
To continue your journey on the south side of the river, the easiest route is to go under the bridges and cross the river at the 36th Street Bridge just past Quinn’s Pond. The Garden City path will take you past, but on the other side of the river from, Boise River Park, the coming Esther Simplot Park, Boise Cascade Lake, Willow Lane Athletic Complex and into Garden City where the north-side path crosses to the south side.
The south-side path is described above and eventually terminates 1.5 miles past the Garden City West Bridge along the South Channel of the Boise River.
Restroom availability can often become an issue on the Greenbelt, especially if you are traveling with children. Many park restrooms close during the winter, but here is a list of restrooms open year round:
Ann Morrison Park (near the playground)
Greenbelt (near Lander Street)
Julia Davis Park (Agriculture Pavilion)
Kathryn Albertson Park (main parking lot)
Marianne Williams Park
Municipal Park Shelter
Veterans Memorial Park
David Proctor is an award-winning journalist and author who has lived in Vermont, Maryland (twice), Germany (twice), Kentucky, Indiana, Utah and Idaho. He has a master’s degree in communications/journalism from the University of Utah, and his work has appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, The Daily Utah Chronicle, Utah Holiday magazine, Rolling Stone, The Great Salt Lake Newspaper, Zoo World, the Idaho Mountain Express, the Idaho Statesman, USA Today, and on Gannett News Service and Reuters. He also founded and directed the Log Cabin BookFest, and was the award-winning director of media and public relations for The Idaho Foodbank.
His previous books include The Quotable Vampire and My Oregon Life (with Elvine Gienger) and Brothers Alpha, all available on Amazon. He is a member of the Boise City Ethics Commission and a volunteer instructor with Boise Community Education. He lives in Boise, Idaho, with his family.
He is the father of two grown daughters and have been married to Becky for 35 years.
If you liked this book, I hope you’ll consider giving me a good review on Amazon.com – or, contact me with suggestions to make it better. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Pathway of Dreams
This book was a brief introduction to the history of the Boise Greenbelt.
You can find much more in my full-length book Pathway of Dreams, available in both print and e-book, on the publisher’s website (at http://www.ridenbaughpress.com/davidproctor/path-of-dreams/), on Amazon.com and through other places where books are sold.
As an adjunct to the book A Pathway of Dreams, On the Greenbelt is a travel guide to the Boise Greenbelt path system, a system much-loved by users but one that is not always as easy to navigate as it may appear. The Greenbelt, after all, is part of a growing and changing Ada County. In the course of its construction and expansion, accommodations had to be made – and continue to be made – for such things as the course of the river and its channels, existing property uses, construction projects, roadways, the safety of its users and the desires of the municipalities through which it runs. The changes can come quickly, which can result in a bit of an adventure for someone unfamiliar with all the options the Greenbelt trails offer.