Fourth of July weekend and I’m pulling into Boise for a few days to explore for hikes and to see what Boise beer culture I could find. Boise is a small big city of about 220,000 people and occupies a fairly flat valley along the Boise River. Foothills rise up to the northeast of town where there is a big nature preserve called Hulls Gulch. It got me thinking about, “just what in the heck is a gulch?” A big greenbelt winds its way through town along the river and this impressed me as a cool feature — my Air BnB was in a comfortable apartment right along the greenbelt and I felt like I was well connected by this space to the entire downtown area.
Boise Around Town
Boise is the State capital and has the necessary trappings for that. A variety of street art held my interest and the small scattering of breweries were welcome in the summer heat. A unique area is the Basque Block, a small neighborhood featuring a Basque museum, more interesting street art, and a small Basque tavern called Bar Gernika that serves up authentic Basque food and drink as well as an assortment of local craft brews. Try the Solomo sandwich and a Kalimotxo for some local flavor. Boise is said to have one of the largest (ten to fifteen thousand people) and most concentrated Basque communities outside of Spain owing to the arrival of shepherds in the 1800’s and family members who followed ever since.
Beers in Boise
Boise has a small but nice selection of breweries, many within walking distance from each other. By the eye test, Payette brewery is the big boy on the block. Housed in a large, modern facility near the Boise River, it features a large modern taproom. Boise Brewing Company and Woodland Empire Brewing are two other walkable locals. 10 Barrel Brewing and RAM Brewing are part of chains but do brewing on-site in Boise. Cloud 9 was a short drive and turned out to be a nano-brewery in a small shopping plaza. I can’t remember anything particularly exceptional about the beers in Boise although they were all good thirst quenchers after a hike in the heat.
Hulls Gulch Loop Hike
Hulls Gulch cuts into the foothills east of town and is part of a city nature preserve. It is generally wide open, high desert country. I was told that there are about 180 miles of trails laced throughout this area.
Crooked River Hike
The trailhead for the Crooked River day hike is about an hour east of Boise. As you climb into the Boise National Forest you pass several big reservoirs along the way. It felt good to get into the forest and Crooked River is a pretty stream that winds its way through a narrow canyon. Active gold mining claims are marked along the river, particularly in the stretch closest to the trail head. As always when hiking Federal lands, it’s a good idea to check the National Forest website for current trail status.
by the way — best thing I found whenn looking up “gulch” was Almira Gulch: