NOTE: 52 Tales is a weekly post about walking the local greenbelt river trail. The greenbelt is a local treasure with unlimited opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. A visit is always full of wonder and discovery, two hallmarks of a successful travel experience. Doing novel things near where I live is one of my creative travel strategies. This post describes my experiences in my own area. If you live somewhere else, what local treasure/s can you explore and enjoy with your children to enrich your life and help satisfy your travel craving? There are amazing things in your backyard too.
February 11: Our first walk of the month?! We just squeaked in this calendar week with a Saturday walk. Last week our walk was on Monday, so it feels like forever since we’ve been. We did go to Disneyland in there, so we weren’t just avoiding it! Walking on Saturday felt so good, we went out for an unblogged walk on Sunday too. Love the river and greenbelt.
This week we headed to Kathryn Albertson Park, which I was hoping would be my February showcase walk. We were there exactly a month ago and the trails were barely walkable from all the ice. A month makes a huge difference, and on this day the trail a mostly ice free. And it was sunny. Yaaaas!
February walk #1
Kathryn Albertson Park, loop. 1.39 miles. About 2 miles total if you walk all the paths.
Front pack or stroller accessible. Bicycles are not allowed in the park. This park has a flat, wide paved trail that is an easy ramble for walkers. The park was designed to attract birds and wildlife and create a peaceful place to enjoy nature.
Plus Add-on Route. Kathryn Albertson Park to nearest river access at Ann Morrison Park. .28 miles, and the traffic wasn’t too bad.
Getting there by car: From State Street head south on Americana Blvd.(16th street). Continue past River Street and Shoreline and cross the river. The next traffic light is between Ann Morrison and Kathryn Albertson parks. Turn right into the Kathryn Albertson parking lot. There are plenty of spots.
Trail directions: The main entrance to the trail is to the right of the giant lettered stone monoliths. There is a main loop and then a trail with a couple of spurs that bisects the loop. Today we took the main trail into the park, along the right perimeter, and then turned onto the middle trail at the far end of the park, passing between two sections of the pond. From there we figure-eighted around a couple of times, backtracking over that same middle trail and back out the entrance.
Our walk: Sun! Glorious sun! It felt amazing to finally be walking under a beautiful blue sky, the world all lit and golden. Knowing it was our last chance to get in a walk this week, Jenas and I had headed out of the house first thing in the morning after getting ourselves together. It was still pretty chilly, but oh so bright and beautiful. While it was a bit quiet when we got there, an hour later the parking lot was packed and there were all kinds of people. Among the throngs we saw: boys with cameras; girls walking dogs; men walking dogs; children on bicycles; dads with sons; independent ladies; chatty ladies; and happy people everywhere. Among the things I love about the greenbelt is seeing people, all kinds of people, enjoying the simple pleasures of being outside and moving their bodies. And feeling grateful for the beauty around them.
The trail was mostly free from the ice that had been encrusted onto the pavement in January. There was still ice under the gazebo at the entrance, but not enough to slow our exploration down. And there was grass too! No longer snow-lined, the open grass of the park was on display, looking very much like spring would be popping out in short order.
The park seemed to me to be in transition. The snow and ice was melting away, clearing the grass, but also leaving behind a new nemesis for many local trails, mud. You don’t have to worry about that too much along this trail though. We saw the usual suspects, mallards and Canada geese, and heard some songbirds, but otherwise the trail was remarkably free of wildlife. It felt somewhat like a blank slate. Winter was on the way out, but spring, in the wings, was not quite ready to make her appearance.
The seedy vestiges of fall were apparent creating textural complexity and interest along the trail. I’m better with birds than trees, but am excited to learn. From my first stab at identification, I think the trees below are some kind of ash, sweetgum, and juniper. I can wait until spring and see what the leaves look like to confirm. I may just call the city tree expert though. An interesting thing about junipers: their ‘berries’ are actually cones, as in conifer, encased in a fleshy cover, rather than berries. According to the Boise City website, all of the trees and plants in the park were selected because they provide food or shelter for the birds that park designers wanted to attract.
On the topic of trees, we also got a closer look at the cross section of the world’s largest Ponderosa pine, now that the ice didn’t make getting to it treacherous. The tree is old, and massive, and those rings are pretty cool.
I felt a tad buoyant on this walk, not only because of the weather and the people around us, but because the baby was in her stroller. The front pack is snuggly, but sometimes inhibiting. It felt pretty good to be walking without all her extra weight.
After a lovely meander looking at pretty things, the baby was asleep, and I was enjoying myself too much to leave. I decided to see how far it was to get the the river from Kathryn Albertson Park. I said in another post that I consider this park part of the greenbelt for several reasons, even though it does not physically connect to the river by walking path. So how far is the river?…we checked it out. Cross Americana, and then turn and cross the road again at the entrance to Ann Morrison Park. Stay on Americana for a short ways until you come to the paved path that descends into the park, through the disc golf course, and across the new creek bridge, right to the river. Boom. .28 miles and there. As we were walking up, there was a group of people gathered by the edge of the river. I knew something must be up. And just as I was approaching the bridge, the unmistakable tail and wings of a bald eagle flew up and away down the river. I didn’t get the best view of it, but it was a reminder of how special the greenbelt is, for sure.
Other things to think about:
Nature Study with Kids. Listening. On a day like today when there is not a lot of obvious wildlife activity, there are still things to discover. Listening for birds and trying to locate them in the trees can be an exciting natural treasure hunt. This can be a good activity in winter because the bare branches on trees allow a better view of birds. Ask the kids if they hear anything and what do they think is making that noise. Younger children can start to learn that different birds make different sounds. Although it might be hard for younger children to visually locate tiny birds among the tall trees, older kids with a pair of cheap binoculars or your zoom camera can have a great time. I like zooming in on the birds that I can’t see very well and snapping a photo. When I get home I transfer the photo to a computer to create a large image that makes identifying it easy.