Day Hikes in the Boise Area
As a part of the vibrant outdoor culture in Idaho, there are hundreds of hikes and trails that are just waiting to be explored in the Boise area. They range from river-side city walks to intense mountain hikes. With all the variety available, there is something for everyone.
Overlooking downtown Boise is a popular spot for hikers of all ages known as Table Rock. The main Table Rock trail is a 3.7-mile-long loop in the foothills just northeast of downtown Boise. This trail starts right behind the Old Penitentiary and elevates almost 900 feet as you hike up to the top of the ridge, then you make your way back down to the beginning. The trail is a popular one for walkers, bikers and runners and all those who enjoy the outdoors. It is also open for both dogs and horses.
Directly under the ridge of Table Rock on the steeply sloped ground is a giant cement “B” for Boise that you pass right by as you climb the last ascent of the trail. Most of the time the “B” is painted white, but sometimes you’ll see it sport different colors, most likely from young teens trying to display some school spirit.
The Table Rock area is also home to several other trails that weave around and between each other and the main trail. There is a Table Rock Trail and Quarry Loop, which is a 4-mile loop in the same foothills, but over slightly different terrain. The starting point is different too as this one begins on Warm Springs Ave right next to the Boise River Greenbelt, which is why it is slightly longer than the main Table Rock Trail. Another path up to Table Rock goes via the Tram Trail. This hike is a direct up-and-back trail three miles long. It starts in the same spot as the Quarry Loop but it much more direct. It’s shorter but steeper as it elevates 935 feet, instead of the others only going up about 900 feet. Despite different paths and directions, these all meet up at the top of the Table Rock ridge for a great scenic overlook, then make their ways back down to the city. All of these trails are labeled as moderate hikes.
Right next to Table Rock, is Castle Rock. This loop starts right behind the Old Penitentiary, like the Table Rock Trail, but quickly breaks off in the other direction towards a much lower ridge that still looks over most of the city. This trail is only two miles long and only elevates about 330 feet so it is much easier to hike, making it great for kids and beginners. You can start there and work your way up to being able to do the various Table Rock trails. If you like the foothills but you want your hike to last a little longer, there is a path that starts in the heart of downtown Boise and works its way into the foothills and back. Because it starts right in the middle of the city and goes into the outskirts it is much longer at 14 ½ miles long. The elevation raises over 2200 feet in this trail. It begins on Main Street, between 9th and 10th streets, and the foothill sections are much further north-west than any of the Table Rock trails.
The Boise River Greenbelt is another great trip to take in the Boise area. It’s not so much a hike and a nice leisure path and it cuts through the entire city, hugging the river the whole time. The main stretch of the path that is actually in the Boise city boundaries is just over 10 miles long. They put the “mile marker zero” right where it crosses Capitol Blvd and it goes out in either direction along the river. There are tons of parks along the path with countless places where you can enter the trail and start going whichever direction you choose. You can walk, jog, run, bike, hoverboard, skateboard, rollerblade, or do whatever other non-motorized methods of transportation you choose. It is completely paved so all of these options are available to you. If you really want to take it for a long time, the Greenbelt continues to stretch outside of the Boise limits in both directions. On the west end, it continues into Garden City for another 17 miles and ends in the city of Eagle on Eagle Road. On the east end, it continues for over seven miles and ends in Discovery Park in Lucky Peak. This is a popular part of the route for bikers who want to go to the parks at Lucky Peak.
In addition to these longer hikes, there are dozens of pedestrian parks that have smaller paths and loops that are paved that you can traverse and explore. Most of these are smaller – in the one- or two-mile range – and are rated as easy trails.
With the love of the outdoors that the residents of Boise feel come dozens and dozens of paths and trails that can be explored. You can hike in the outskirts of the city among the foothills or keep it simple in a park within the city limits. Or, if you’re feeling up to it, you can find hikes that have a little bit of both. You can find hundreds of trail options if you use an app like AllTrails or if you use online resources. These tools can help you find an excellent hike that is just for you. All of these trail options provide plenty of variety to keep you excited about hiking so you can live a healthy lifestyle.