Whether you’re looking to dive in or catch some air, Eagle offers the best recreation a city could ask for.
By Kate Matthews & Becky Davis
Photography by Copper Chadwick
As summer heats up and the Boise River runs at its best, residents across the Treasure Valley are eagerly taking the plunge into summer fun. Without a doubt, Eagle offers some of the best of what the Treasure Valley has to offer when it comes to recreation. Miles of river, an amazing matrix of trails, and an active and supportive community of recreation enthusiasts are all part of what makes Eagle an incredible place to live, especially come summer.
Before you suit-up or clip-in, we would be remiss to not discuss safety. Even for the most experienced river rat or cyclist among us, the fun we love comes with its own inherent risks. Don’t be fooled, but don’t be scared either. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to staying safe, as does prior planning and strong skills.
First and foremost it is important to remember that there is safety in numbers. We learned the buddy system for a reason. Calling for help is pretty much futile if there isn’t anyone around to answer that call. Likewise, make sure your gear is up for the task. If you’re uncertain that your tube or raft will hold air, don’t chance it.
It’s also imperative that you know the conditions of the terrain before hitting the water or the trails. Check the water levels before diving in. Water that is too fast, too cold or too shallow can result in tragic results. It’s also important to know what other surprises the water holds. On both the water and the trails, overhanging branches and hidden rocks can spell disaster. File this lesson under “look before you leap”
Let’s Get Wet!
The Boise River provides endless solace from the summer heat. Swimming, floating, fishing and paddlesports are all on the menu once the temperatures rise. And that’s just the fun to be found in our backyards. A quick drive up Highway 55 adds rafting and hot springing to the list in a matter of minutes.
For many, The Boise River offers a great place to splash and swim the days away. With shallow waters for the kids, outcroppings of rocks and rope swings for plunging into deeper waters for the “big kids” (ahem…) and sandy beaches and hot rocks for soaking up the sun, it’s no wonder that the banks of the Boise can’t be beat. While there is no “one spot” to swim, there are favorite swimming holes up and down the banks where you and your family to play.
The problem is, getting anyone to tell you where these spots are. Most river goers are protective of their favorite spots, telling only their most trusted friends and swearing them to secrecy. So, how do you know where to go? It’s simple; just keep your eyes peeled. Are there cars parked in a strange place on the road along the river? Are there well-worn foot trails meandering off into the trees along the banks? Is there a sandy spot that looks like it’s been beaten down by towels or remnants of sandcastles? Then you’ve probably found a great place to swim.
Another great option is Eagle Island State Park. With swimming beaches, grassy picnic areas and a waterslide, the lake at Eagle Island State Park is a popular spot to beat the heat with friends and family. And, with the endless other opportunities for recreation at every turn, there is truly fun to be found for the entire family.
Unless you’re brand new to the Treasure Valley or have been living under a rock, you know that floating the Boise River can’t be beat. The traditional float from Boise’s Barber Park to take out at Ann Morrison is a dream come true on a hot summer day.
But few Treasure Valley residents know that the waters are free and clear for floaters from Glenwood to Eagle or Linder Roads as well. Chuck Cremer, owner of Alpenglow Mountainsport, remarks that, “this float is far more scenic than the traditional Barber run and feels more remote.” He warns that this stretch of river is not as cleared out as the stretch through Boise, so it’s important to be on the lookout for low-hanging branches and other debris, but that it is well worth it.
Without a doubt, paddlesports are hot. What are paddlesports? Well, if it uses a paddle… Basically, kayaking, rafting and stand-up paddleboarding are considered the mainstays of paddlesports, but really the options are pretty endless, as are the opportunities to indulge in these sports on the Boise River and beyond.
While paddlesports have always had a cult-like following in Idaho, the opening of the new Boise River Park, located between the Fairview Ave. and Veterans Parkway bridges, has brought these passions home to the Treasure Valley. Still in its first phase, the Boise River Park offers kayakers, boogie boarders and pretty much anyone else with a means to join in the fun an opportunity to play on the man-made rapids. To learn more about the park and all it has to offer, visit www.boiseriverpark.com.
But kayaking isn’t the only paddlesport that’s hot this summer. Paddleboarding is also raging on the waters of Idaho this summer. This sport, which is both as easy as, and harder than it looks, involves standing on a board (similar in style to a surf board) and maneuvering through the water using a paddle. “Anyone can do it,” says Cremer, “it’s a cheap family sport that offers both recreational fun and anaerobic exercise.”
Paddleboarders can be seen throughout the waters of the Treasure Valley and Idaho. Folks are taking to the waters from the Boise River and Eagle Island State Park to Anderson Dam and Red Fish Lake and having the time of their life. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is the summer to take it up.
If you think getting someone to tell you where their swimming hole is located is tough, try getting a fisherman to tell you about his or her glory holes. Ha! Good luck with that.
But truth be told, there’s just about no wrong answer to this question when it comes to fishing the Boise. Whatever your angle, the fishing on the Boise River is usually sublime. There are plenty of spots for everyone, beginners and pros alike, and with trout and bass as the prime catches of the Boise River it’s easy to cast your line and let the river decide what’s for dinner.
To learn more about fishing the Boise River and the rules and regulations of fishing in Idaho visit www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/, there are also a plethora of sites with up-to-date fishing reports available throughout the web.
On Dry Land
With an abundance of breathtaking nature at our doorsteps, it’s only natural to want to get out and beat feet against the earth. Reid Merrill, owner of Eagle’s Studio Fitness agrees. “It’s a pleasure to be outdoors,” says Merrill, “engaging in your fitness and exercise routines in a gym for seven to eight months a year is great, but everyone here agrees that it’s nice to get out and get fit outdoors while you can.”
So maybe you want something a little drier to do this summer than water sports? Well, you’re in luck! Eagle not only boasts amazing water play, but some incredible trails as well. While access to the foothills is still within reach, it is getting scarcer as our community grows.
Thankfully, Eagle Island State Park offers five miles of paths and trails that are perfect for a relaxing hike or a jog with your dog. The trails at Eagle Island are truly ideal for families, as they aren’t “advanced” by any means and are easily accessible to hikers of all abilities. However, if you are looking for something a little more challenging, a quick drive up Highway 55 or up to Bogus Basin can provide a vast array of options for hikers with a taste for the daring.
Hiking at Eagle Island isn’t the only fun summer activity you’ll find at our local State Park. The park also offers a sweet, 9-hole disc golf course open to the public from May through October.
Much like traditional golfing, disc golf is played on a set course with “tees” and “holes,” but instead of clubs and a ball, players shoot on par or score that illusive hole-in-one with high-octane Frisbees (discs) instead. With disc golf being easy to learn and fun for everyone, it won’t surprise you to find this course packed with friends looking for fun.
Eagle Sports Complex
If you want a combination of all sorts of activities, from hiking, skating, mountain biking, BMX racing, horseback riding or running then the Eagle Sports Complex is the place to be.
Brad Nelson, founding member of Boise Area Mountain Bike Association, said that some of the features of the trails at the Eagle Bike Park, a feature of the Eagle Sports Complex, include a downhill race course with rock and jump features called “Shake n’ Bake”, a free ride trail with 30 jumps and three drops called “Stormin Mormon” and three sets of dirt jumps. “The seven miles of multi-use cross-country trails are great for all levels of riders,” Nelson said. “They are curvy and fun but don’t have steep or long climbs.”
If you are looking for something to do that is a little bit more face paced, why not try BMX Racing at Eagle Foothills BMX? A relatively inexpensive and fun activity that the whole family will enjoy, BMX racing is for all ages and for any skill level. Whether you have been racing for years or want to give it the good old college try, all you need to race at Eagle Foothills BMX is a bike.
Located next to the Eagle Sports Complex, the BMX Park includes one track with jumps, downhill paths, and all sorts of obstacles for anyone up to a challenge. For anyone wanting to give it a try, the first race is free and the fun runs from May to the end of October.
Ed Newgen, the president and track director of Eagle Foothills BMX, said it is a great activity for the whole family because it is such a social event, for both kids and parents. “It’s a really fun sport and it can be challenging and rewarding or you can just come out and have fun. One of the best things is just for spectators, it’s just so exciting to watch the kids race just as a spectator and cheer them on,” Newgen said.
If you feel like giving it a try, there are races most Tuesday evenings and the State Championship Race on July 26, 27 and 28 bringing racers from all over Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Check out http://www.ef-bmx.com for more information.
Another offering from the Eagle Sports Complex is its skatepark. Open from dawn until 9 p.m., the Eagle Skatepark offers bowls, stairs, rails and boxes for the avid shredder. While many will think that the Eagle Skatepark is only appealing to the youth of Eagle, be advised to think twice on that. Skateboarding is no longer a crime, and the Eagle skatepark is the place to be for the over-30 set looking to blow off work and let it all out.
Leave No Trace
A final note when it comes to having fun this summer is this: leave no trace. If you pack it in, pack it out. Leave the area cleaner than you found it. However you want to say it is fine, what’s more important is that you just do it. Our environment and ecosystem are precious to all of us—human, animal (and fish) alike.
With that being said, it’s time to get out and have some fun! There’s a whole world of activities waiting for you, so what are you waiting for? Whether you’re fishing, floating, kayaking, hiking, throwing some disc or taking some sick jumps, Idaho recreation is calling your name. So dive in, Eagle! Dust off that old bike or blow up your raft and head on out!