April 21. It was a beautiful Friday. Bright blue sky, billowy clouds, warm. And we were due for our weekly greenbelt walk. Last week we had walked the last open loop. Much of the rest of the pathway is closed because of river flooding. So what to do this week? Hmm.
Among the things I love about the greenbelt, is the fact that there are several libraries right along it. Like the greenbelt, libraries and kids just go together. And just like the greenbelt, libraries offer tons of free things to do and learn, other kids to play with, and a sense of community joie de vivre (especially in the children’s area). Friday is often our library day anyway. So, our plan was to play a bit at the Garden City Public Library, just off of Glenwood Blvd., check out a board book or two, and then follow the trail from the library in both directions to see what was happening on the greenbelt. How far could we actually get before flooding stopped us? We ended up walking more than I thought- 2 miles roundtrip. And it was fabulous out there.
April Walk #4 Garden City Public Library Trail East and West.
1.98 Miles. Front pack or stroller. This walk is not long enough for a bike ride in my opinion. It’s a simple there-and-back walk with no looping whatsoever. That said, once the flooding abates, this section of the trail is lovely and a great part of a longer walking or biking loop. Bathrooms at the library.
Getting there by car: From downtown Boise head west on State Street. Turn left on Glenwood Blvd. About ¾ of a mile down is Marigold Lane. Turn right and then right again into the Garden City Library/City Hall complex parking lot. Park on either side of the main building.
Trail directions: Visit the Garden City Public Library for a bit. They have great books, rocking chairs to snuggle and read, toys and activities for even the youngest children, and plenty of room to play. When you’re ready to get outside, exit on the river side.
There are picnic tables here and a small wetland with interpretive signs. Go to the left or the right. We started to the right, headed east, but due to flooding under the Glenwood bridge, we did not get to explore farther. Note to self about what lies further down the trail: When the water recedes, the trail on the other side of Glenwood follows the river past the private campground and the old Les Bois horse stables, out onto Plantation Island. Unfortunately, the foot bridge, about 1.5 miles down, that connected this trail to the north side of the river, was completely removed in April due to erosion around its support piers. That bridge, and the section on the north side right beyond, are some of the best parts of the greenbelt, so it’s pretty disappointing. The removal of the bridge is a big loss for greenbelt users. But I’m sure someone getting hurt would be a bigger loss.
If you have to stay on the trail on the south side of the river, past Plantation Island, it veers away from from the river and jogs through some Garden City neighborhoods. This is one of the least satisfying parts of the greenbelt. It’s a bit confusing, there are no sidewalks, and it’s not great for kids or even strollers due to road substrate being really bumpy. I would avoid it in favor of other greenbelt sections, unless you’re just curious to check it out. And if you’re biking a longer distance you may now have to use this route to continue eastward.
Anyway, long story short: we didn’t go that way at all due to water.
After being rebuffed at the Glenwood underpass, we turned and headed west down the trail instead. This part of the trail runs directly between the river and houses on the other side. The river and its banks are beautiful, of course. But is was just as interesting to check out the backyards of these trail-side dwellers. There were beautiful flowers, cool yard art, ethereal wind chimes, and even a Little Free Library. I would love to live right by the river and putter in my backyard, creating an artistic and beautiful garden for all. Luckies.
About a mile along, the river had flooded a low section of trail. We stopped here and turned around, walking back to the library the same way we came.
Our walk: Our mission this week was twofold. We wanted to visit the library. And we wanted to see what the greenbelt was like out there. Officially, all Garden City greenbelt paths are closed right now, so we had no expectations.
We started at one of our favorite libraries, Garden City Public.
They have a great children’s section for every age. We played. We read some books. Baby Jenas followed other kids and around and they followed her. Now she is old enough (at almost 1) to stand and enjoy a low shelf with toy gears, beading toys, puzzles and the like, which was fun for both of us. Or climb the blocks. Or just check out the other kids.
I love that this library makes the Boise River outside an important element of the services they provide. You can actually check out children’s fishing poles and tackle boxes to fish at the river. Anyone can try fishing, and everyone can enjoy the river. They also have had a Boise River Lecture series for adults this year. The river is right out their door and they are making it even more accessible and appreciated by the community. Libraries are the best.
After some library fun, we headed outside. Does it get any better than this?
Our plan was to go as far as we could in both directions from the library, with flood waters and poor trail conditions to determine when the route ended for us. We didn’t get very far headed east. A few steps from the library, the Glenwood underpass was full of river water. Check. Easterly walk complete.
We did an about face and headed west to see what that was all about.
Because we didn’t know how far we would get, I wanted to just enjoy being out there and appreciate the day. We tried to notice small things.
Which bench has the best view?
I also decided that I’m not seeing enough birds along the trail anymore. I don’t know if the flooding is reducing their numbers or I’m just not picking the right routes. But what I’m realizing is that while birds may be fickle, plants will always come through for you. They’re always there. And hence, I am now formally declaring that I am going to be studying the greenbelt plants and learning what they are.
Here is some of what we saw.
These maple tree samaras (official term for whirlygig type seeds) were giant, bigger than I’ve ever seen, and all over the place.
Before Jenas tried to put this in her mouth she played it just like a musical rattle. Toys from nature. That’s part of why we’re out here.
The first plant I decided I need to know is the black cottonwood. It’s one of the few native species along the Boise River.
It’s noteworthy as well because its name so aptly describes the cottony seed tufts that overtake certain sections of the trail during the spring. I thought I knew which trees were cottonwoods, but I wasn’t completely sure. To try to identify them, I took photos of the bark, top and undersides of the leaves, and branching pattern of my suspect.
There were no flowers yet, but soon I’m sure. With all that evidence in hand, as we reached the end of our walk I saw this sign.
As I thought, these heart-to-spade shaped leaves are indeed cottonwood. If you know one tree in Boise, this is the one to know. Now I do. And because I know the bark and general qualities now as well (large, usually right near water), I’ll be able to identify it in any season.
We had a great time out there. Rather than a predetermined loop route, we simply got outside to breath fresh air, listen to the river, and see what we could see. Sometimes it’s nice to have a goal. And sometimes is wonderful to meander. Like a cottonwood seed on the wind. Like someone in love with the day. Like a river.