by Adam Bass
Have you ever wondered about the sections of the Boise River beyond the crowded Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park reach? Would you like to know what skill level is required, what the known hazards are and where the public access points are? The Boise River Water Trail 6th edition answers these questions and is your starting point for experiencing the full extent of what the Boise River has to offer.
What’s New in the 6th Edition?
The Boise River Water Trail has been updated to include confluences of tributaries, bridge crossings, and revised descriptions caused from changes along the Boise River since 2015. A total of nine confluences have been added to the water trail. Thirty-seven bridges have been added to the water trail along with the year they were constructed and any unique characteristics about them. If there is no description added to the bridge of how to paddle beneath it, there should be a reasonable line to paddle through. The newly constructed phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park has been added to the water trail as well. If seeking to paddle through the Boise Whitewater Park, it is recommended to check for anyone using the surf features and communicate with them that you’d like to paddle through.
Safe Passage Through the Whitewater Parks
The adjustable feature at Phase 1 has flashboards that form a pool above the wave allowing for through paddlers to check for users and communicate with them prior to paddling through.
Phase 2 has three features along the River consisting of one adjustable and two static. The adjustable feature has a large elevation drop and is the first you’ll come to after paddling underneath the pedestrian bridge. A bypass channel has been developed at the center of the river. Paddling through it means you’ll have the concrete wall of the wave shaper on your right, not the typical paddling experience. This can be an intimidating drop to paddle through so scouting is recommended from the pool above by paddling up to the flash boards. Portaging can be done along the river left or river right bank. The river left portage is shorter and consists of paddling left of the fish ladder and portaging over the island immediately after the fish ladder; do not go to the Greenbelt from here since the neighborhood association owns the property and it is considered trespassing to be between the high water line of the Boise River and the Greenbelt. The river right portage consists of taking out several hundred feet upstream and portaging along the Greenbelt. The two lower static features can be paddled straight through. Communication with anyone surfing the wave is not difficult since there is not a significant elevation drop at the feature.
Please be safe on the Boise River by never paddling alone, keeping your eyes down river, and communicating with your group. Conditions can change quickly, especially when trees fall across the river. Best practice is to paddle with a PFD, shoes, and clothing that can dry quickly after getting wet.
If you’d like to experience these amazing sections of the Boise River with a fun and safety-conscious group, then be on the lookout for BREN-sponsored float trips. These trips are offered in the summer and often include professionals in the fields of biology, botany, ecology, hydrology, hydraulics, and geomorphology. Elected officials and other community leaders often attend. These experts provide information about the beautiful Boise River as you experience a little-traveled reach of the Boise River.