52 Greenbelt Walks: Week 12 Bridges Over Troubled Waters

Current information about Boise Greenbelt flooding closures, including a map.
http://parks.cityofboise.org/news/2017/04/boise-greenbelt-closures/

March 26: If I was going to pick a theme for all of my walks along the greenbelt in March, there’s one word that comes to mind. Flood. The river has been surging and causing greenbelt closures for more than a month now. We have avoided some trails because we know they are impassible. Where we do venture, the greenbelt has become more and more of a question mark. Can we get all the way around and still keep our feet dry? Luckily, many pedestrian and traffic bridge crossings give a person options. 

If March is about ‘flood’, I’ve enjoyed the novelty and the reminder that nature is powerful. I have never seen the greenbelt like this, and I love being out there. But I’m ready for a new month and a new experience. If I could choose the word for April, we’d leave flood for this year and head into ‘‘spring’. Birds, flowers, new growth, and color. Cross your fingers.

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March Walk #4 Ann Morrison to Esther Simplot Trestle Bridge Loop
3.4 miles with detour. Stroller. Front pack. Bike. There are lots of public amenities on this walk, including the playground at Ann Morrison, play surfaces at Esther Simplot Park, sculptures and signs at Firefighter Memorial/Riverside park, beaches, bridges, and more. Year-round bathrooms can be found at Morrison and Simplot parks. Seasonal bathrooms at Riverside park.

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GPS View

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Street View

Getting there by car: From State Street turn south onto 16th Street. Follow this street, which becomes Americana, and continue on, crossing the Boise River. Just past the river crossing is Ann Morrison Park on the left. Turn in and take the park road to the left to go to the playground parking. Watch for the super low water channel dip in the road. This park road is a closed loop and you will go out the same way you came in when you exit the park.

If you are coming from west Boise, rather than go all the way to 16th, turn right on 27th Street. Follow this road and continue on when it becomes Shoreline and all the way to Americana. Turn right on Americana and continue to the parking as directed above.

Trail directions: Park at the Ann Morrison Park playground parking lot. Head to the left on the greenbelt towards the west end of the park. At the far corner there is a new bridge that crosses a small river diversion, but remains on the south side of the river. Cross and continue along paved greenbelt. Continue walking past the first trestle bridge that crosses the river here and connects with Riverside (firefighters) Park.

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Walk through the Fairview Avenue and Main Street underpasses, and emerge at Joe’s Crab Shack. The final stretch on the southside of the river passes Boise River Park where you can often see kayakers and surfers ripping up the waves. Just before Esther Simplot Park is another trestle bridge. Cross this time and stay for a bit at Esther Simplot if you want, then continue your loop headed back along the north shore with river on your right. You will pass the Boise River Park again, traverse Firefighters Memorial/Riverside Park and make your way back to the Pioneer footbridge at Ann Morrison park. Cross back to your car.

We were unable to complete this loop as intended. The underpass right before Riverside Park on the north side was completely flooded and not possible to cross. Instead, we crossed Fairview Avenue bridge to the south side, then crossed the trestle bridge span back to the north side straight into Riverside Park to complete our loop.

Our walk: We’ve had sun, snow, and ice on our walks up until this point. Lots and lots of snow and ice. Today was our first rainy walk. Flooding was apparent and rain came sporadically. It was wet out there, but we had on rain coats, and baby Jenas was tucked snuggly into her 3-wheeler to brave the elements.

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We set off from Ann Morrison park. There are lots of bridges and underpasses on this walk, so always a new feature to enjoy. The first bridge you cross, headed out of Ann Morrison Park, opened just this summer, so this trail is a rather new addition to the greenbelt walking repertoire. 

Some aspects of this stretch of trail were much older. The metal trestle bridge not far along was built in 1923, with the date inscribed in several places. This bridge, along with the 8th street trestle bridge that runs parallel to Capitol Blvd. is a former train crossing that was converted into a rails-to-trails footpath.

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And the art nouveau-style Fairview bridge, also built in the early 20th century, had seating all along and a lovely promenade feel, reminiscent of a time when this bridge saw a predominance of foot traffic perhaps (pics below). At the far end of this walk, the new Esther Simplot park just opened in late 2016, so this walk is definitely a juxtaposition of the old and the new.

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Bridge into Simplot Park

The impacts of river flooding were everywhere. In the Main Street underpass, water was seeping through the concrete wall onto the greenbelt trail and flowing down a storm drain in the tunnel. The river, just on the other side of the wall, was higher than the trail in the underpass. That’s not at all sketchy to know that the flooding force of the river is just a concrete wall away and already breaching it at the bottom! With my baby in her stroller. And knowing that parts of the greenbelt trail have already been crumbling and damaged from the water. I got out of there pretty quick.

 

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The river is right beyond this wall and leaking through the bottom.

Also, as we continued on, we could see that all evidence of the Boise River Whitewater Park, which is usually active with kayakers, surfers and other water sport enthusiasts all year round, was erased from the river. The falls and flume feature was completely submerged. There were no rocks, no falls, no concrete wall. Everything was underwater.

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Boise River Park is missing. Normally there are river runners and boarders playing here.

And heading back along the north shore the trail was closed due to more than a foot of standing water underneath the both Main Street and Fairview Bridges. We did see a hearty soul walking though to continue on his greenbelt journey, but the water was nearly to his knees and it was slow going. We decided not. At Main street it was easy to cross the street above the underpass. But at Fairview we had to scale the embankment and cross Fairview Bridge to the other side of the river. The walkway on Fairview was pretty cool in itself and one I would not normally walk on. Thick and fancy concrete guard rail. Pedestrian benches all along the span. Pretty views up and down the river. I was glad we had to check it out.

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Fairview “promenade”

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One of several benches set into the guardrail. Apparently hasn’t seen much use lately.

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Back down the embankment

Once on the south side, we decided to recross again at the lovely trestle bridge and finish our walk on the north shore. It was a bit convoluted, but we ended up making a figure 8 loop, and having a great walk with lots of bridges, and lots of flooding intrigue.

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Normally my focus along the greenbelt and with my baby is on the natural elements. I can watch birds all day long. Every bit of new growth on the trees and on the ground is exciting. Rebirth and the seasonal cycle and all that. But, I’m realizing since starting the “weekly greenbelt walk”, that I also have a thing for bridges. They’re cool to see. Cool to walk on. And each one has a history, it’s own story.  What are these Boise River crossing bridges and how do they help tell the story of the City of Boise and the development of the Boise Greenbelt? So grows a new mission. Expect to hear more about the bridges of the Boise River.

 

 

It’s always an adventure out here on the ‘belt, but when one of your objectives is to narrow in on the perfect greenbelt walking loop, facing flooding and detours on every walk now kind of throws a wrench into the mix. Maybe this year of greenbelt walks won’t be the straightforward exploration I imagined when I started this project. It could be a while before I can go on the walks I am used to, or that I intended this spring. But maybe, just maybe, it will be better. Like walking over the Fairview Bridge promenade. Maybe we’ll see and do more than we ever would have.

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One of many bridge crossings on this walk.

 

 



 

 

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