Trail Running Boise, Table Rock

Running in Boise, Idaho

I can’t tell you what I used to think of when I heard someone talk about Boise, Idaho. I never knew much, to be honest. Recently, my wife and I took a road trip that circled through 6 high west frontier states. On night one, we pulled into our hotel in Boise somewhere around 11pm. We didn’t really see too much on the way into town. We were mostly concerned with getting to the hotel, enjoying a beer in the room, and turning in for the night. Other than a run scheduled for first thing in the morning, Boise was merely a pit stop for the larger trip. I pointed out a gigantic lighted cross way up in the hills on the outskirts of town and jokingly told my wife that’s where our run would take us in the morning. She didn’t think it was funny at all and with my pride somewhat bruised, we drifted off to sleep.

At first light, we grabbed our running gear and headed for our starting point, about half a mile from the hotel. We stayed directly on the Boise River, which splits through town. We would start running on the multi-use path that follows the river and end at the top of Table Rock, then return for a total of around 8 miles.

My wife and I enjoy watching college football, but we’re not super fans. Whenever we see Boise State’s blue field on television, we yell “blue rug!” We don’t have any affiliations with the school or know anything about it, really, other than the fact that they play on a crazy blue and orange field. I had a hunch my wife wasn’t aware how close we were to the university and as we approached our starting point, she saw the stadium and realized what we were walking toward. “Blue rug!” We walked to the stadium and snapped some photos. We started running on the path directly in front of the stadium.

The first 2.5 miles of the run were spent on concrete and asphalt multi-use path as we winded along the river. Soon we arrived at the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, which is now a museum and garden. The penitentiary also marks the beginning of the non-paved trail to the top of Table Rock. There are tons of trails on Table Rock, but we chose to take the #15A Old Pen Trail to the #15 Table Rock Trail. Somewhere around mile 3, we realized two things:

  1. The elevation estimate I got from Garmin was totally inaccurate and we would be climbing many more feet than we thought
  2. That giant lighted cross was sitting at the top of Table Rock

There was a surprising amount of foot traffic on the trail, but we slowly made our way up. With my wife cursing me frequently throughout the run, I paused occasionally to sneak peeks of the view of downtown Boise. I could see our hotel and, right next door, the Boise Color Run kicking off in a cloud of multi-colored effervescence. We arrived at the summit finally and soaked in the views. After 899 feet of elevation gain, we were ready to take in some nutrition and rest for a few moments. We originally anticipated the run to end in an hour and thirty minutes. In total, we spent 1:52:47 in motion.

We started down the trail and moved at a great clip. Surprisingly, we ran into more traffic on the way up than on the way down, so we were able to really make up some time. As usual, running proved to be a great way to enjoy the city of Boise. Now, when I think of Boise, I’ll picture a city that blends with nature. The river winds through it and it’s seemingly surrounded by protected wild lands. From the river to Table Rock, to watching firefighting airplanes take off to aid in the effort against rampant forest fires, we never once got bored on this run. The Strava course GPS is below in case you want to experience this run in person the next time you’re in Boise.

And check out some photos and GoPro footage from the run in the YouTube video below.

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