Note: An earlier version of this article was published in the May edition of the Boise Urban Magazine app.
Author: Genevieve Nutting
Take a look around and you’ll have a hard time arguing against why Boise has been ranked one of the most active cities in the nation by several publications.
From the city center, one doesn’t have to travel far to have access to a variety of outdoor recreation; from biking, hiking and rock climbing to white water rafting, stand up paddle boarding and numerous activities in between, Boise offers some of the best ways to get outside and get moving.
That being said, it can be difficult to locate some hidden gem activities, especially if it’s a first attempt at trying something new. Who better to go for tips than individuals in the community whose love for being active in the outdoors extends far outside the traditional ways of staying healthy.
Stand up paddle boarding – Yogi style
Test your balance and find both a challenge and tranquility while transitioning through a yoga sequence on a paddleboard in Boise waters. Next time you think about taking your yoga practice to the mat, why not say “Namaste” on my board instead.
Tips from SUP enthusiast, Idaho SUP Yoga Director and Instructor, Nicole Vickerman
Gem spot: Quinn’s Pond
“It’s a beautiful spot on the outskirts of town, located next to the white water park on the Boise River. It’s a great place to practice paddle techniques, to practice SUP yoga and especially great for beginners who are just learning the ropes in paddle boarding.”
Best time to go: “Mid-morning and late evening where the water is calm and sometimes you can almost have the whole place to yourself, surrounded by the beautiful foothills and watching the gorgeous sunsets.”
Why it’s a great way to be healthy: “SUP yoga is a great avenue for exposing people to yoga who may not step into a traditional studio class setting. SUP allows you to truly be in the moment, focused on what you are doing at the exact moment, whether it be paddling on a pond, a lake, a river, or anchoring down for some yoga. Paddling in itself is an incredible physical full body workout, and SUP yoga will train and strengthen muscles you forgot you had! SUP yoga is all encompassing in that you improve strength, flexibility, balance, and mindfulness, and includes being immersed in the elements of the air, water, sun and moon!”
Enthusiast tip: “Be ready to get wet, have a good time and come with a good attitude and a smile. SUP is for all ages and all abilities, you can do it on almost any body of water, and it is a lifetime sport!”
Get active and a view through rock climbing
There’s no doubt, Idaho has some of the most stunning scenery in the country. There’s no better way to get a view of it all than after experiencing the adrenaline rush after climbing up one of the peaks in Boise and admiring a bird’s eye view of the Treasure Valley.
Tips from rock climber enthusiast, mountaineer and sport climber; sophomore student and research assistant in geology, Fallon Rowe
Gem spot: Black Cliffs on the way up to Lucky Peak
“The crag hosts climbs on both sides of the canyon, which allows for morning and afternoon climbing to beat the heat. The cliffs have lots of fun variety for different levels of difficulty and types of climbing. Their close proximity to other recreation in Boise is helpful to fit into busy schedules. The natural scenery of the high desert at the local climbing areas helps remind us all of the beauty close to home in the Treasure Valley.”
Best time to go: “Spring and fall, though in the summer, shade can be found in different areas of the Black Cliffs and Table Rock throughout the day, but morning is generally the best.”
Why it’s a great way to be healthy: Climbing keeps me fit and healthy by encouraging strength, flexibility, and mental control. It is similar to yoga in its ability to force absolute focus and breathing while pushing your body in new ways every day. Climbing requires overall fitness and courage, but it also depends on the skills, gear and technique to stay safe.”
How she got into climbing: “I got into climbing through a winter break camp at the local YMCA when I was six. I soon joined the climbing team and have been competing ever since. I travel for both competitions and outdoor climbing, and I’ve been climbing for 12 years. It’s one of the most important things in my life.”
Enthusiast tip: “I recommend finding a skilled mentor to teach you the necessary skills and gear usage to keep you safe. Climbing gyms in the area teach classes and have partner meet-ups to help you get on the rock. Try it out a few times indoors where you can learn the movements and rent gear. For your first time climbing outdoors, make sure to have an experienced climber and the necessary gear and skills.”
Where the wheels meet the terrain while mountain biking
Maybe climbing up mountains isn’t your thing, but rip roaring through them is more like it. Or it may be as simple as the fact that while Idaho has more biker friendly roads than most states, you’d like to find a place where motor vehicles are the least of your worries. Why not take your wheels off the road and give the mountains a try?
Tips from mountain biking enthusiast, Idaho author and publisher, Steve Stuebner
Gem spot: Watchman-Three Bears Loop in East Foothills
“The loop is 10 miles overall and it features a great mix of scenery; the sounds of birds chirping, rushing water in the creeks and many colorful wildflowers along the way. My dog Huck loves to run and he always goes with us. The climb on Rocky Canyon Road, Five Mile Creek and Watchman provide a great fitness challenge for the day, getting your heart thumping and your thighs burning, but once the climbing is over, the huge downhill puts a big grin on your face.”
Best time to go: “Early when the temperature is 50- 60 degrees and try to finish by mid-morning to avoid the heat.”
Why he’s an avid mountain biker enthusiast: “I’ve been biking all my life on road bikes and then started riding a mountain bike after they were invented and available for public retail sales in the mid 1980s in Boise. I remember riding in the Boise Foothills in those days, and if I ran into another mountain biker I usually knew them. Only a handful of people rode the trails back in those days, and now there are literally thousands … plus tons of hikers and trail-runners. We all get along amazingly well. My first version of Mountain Biking in Boise was published in 1994. I’m now on my 6th edition of that book, which features 65 rides in the greater Boise area.”
How it’s a great way to be healthy: “By definition, real mountain biking is great for fitness because the mountains are not very forgiving. You either have the strength and stamina to ride uphill on a mountain trail, or you don’t. So you start with easier rides in the spring and build up to steeper and longer rides as the riding season progresses. Plus you learn how to master weaving around rocks, negotiating tree roots and other obstacles on the trails.”
Enthusiast tip: “Get involved in some group rides with the bike shops or with women’s groups (Dirt Dolls is one cool group that I know about) and meet some fellow riders who ride your own speed. Try to ride a couple of days a week with your friends and build up your endurance along the way, trying more challenging and longer trails as you go.”
Run your heart out
Tips from running enthusiast, former Boise State University Track and Field athlete; Clinical Program Coordinator for University of Washington School of Medicine, Kacie Bitzenburg
Gem spot: Three Bears Trail/Freestone Ridge Trail in the Boise foothills.
“The grind up the hill is brutal, but it’s a great opportunity to work on hill form. Within minutes, I feel that I am a million miles away from the city and can sweat out all my frustrations and regain perspective. The downhill coast on the way back is like a decadent dessert after a hearty meal. Not only does it feel great on the hamstrings to let loose and fly down the hills, but upon rounding a curve in the trail, the entire Boise skyline opens up and presents a stunning view for your run back home.”
Best time to go: “Sunset! On those bitterly cold, skin-stinging days in January and February this year when running outside sounded less than enticing, it was the view of the sunset from this trail that forced me to lace up and head out. I would time it just right so that I would just be heading home right when the sun set over downtown Boise, optimizing my opportunity to drink in the view as I made my way out of the foothills. That’s what you have to do to stay engaged with the sport – give yourself opportunities every day to fall in love with running all over again. “
Why it’s a great way to be healthy: “It forces me to conceptualize my body as a machine, which lends a much more healthy female perspective in a world that romanticizes thigh gaps and bikini bridges. Effective and efficient body function requires proper fuel – which enforces clean eating and self-control – as well as adequate sleep. Perhaps most vital, however, is the release I find when my soles hit the road. I am a high-stress, Type A personality, and running allows me to regenerate and unravel the events of my day. Running, for me, is like coming home.”
Enthusiast tip: “Make it hurt, but do what you must to make yourself love it. Running is hard work, and it requires a massive amount of discipline to train your brain and your body to keep moving even when every fiber of your being is screaming at you to stop. However, to stick with it, you have to grant yourself incentives to ensure you make it out the door every day. When I begin training for a race and first start incorporating morning runs into my schedule, I treat myself to a 12 oz. soy cappuccino from the coffee shop by my house for the first few mornings I drag myself out for a run at 5am. That little treat provides just enough push until I can reestablish a morning run routine. Granting yourself some grace and patience will exponentially aid in building a sustainable running schedule – for life!”