The breeze is gently blowing through the trees. A wind chime sounds, and mourning doves murmur. Here and there I hear voices, people outside enjoying the summer evening, children playing. These are the sounds of my neighborhood. I’m walking through the Boise North End from the local gas station, carrying a 6-pack of beer and a stick of beef jerky. And I’m in love with my new hood.
How did I get so lucky? I love hiking so much. And I’ve landed in Boise, Idaho, which, like Denver, Colorado, is literally just minutes from tons of hiking trails. The trails right around Boise are high desert, exposed, wide open spaces, rolling hills of grassland. Sometimes I long for the peaceful, cool, wild beauty of Colorado forests in the Rocky Mountains, with a surprise around every wooded corner or across every murmuring creek. Stack Rock Trail, leading to a granite tower high above the city of Boise, recently gave me just the lush, shaded forest fix with stunning views I so craved. Plus, there’s the fun of going off the beaten path to get up close to Stack Rock.
And, the 10-mile hike kicked my ass!
Are there polecats in Idaho? What is a polecat, anyway? I had to Google the word, having only a vague sense that it was not in the same category as a mountain lion or a bobcat. An internet search revealed that a polecat is similar to a weasel, and despite its name, is more related to a dog than a cat. In any case, there may or may not be polecats in Idaho. But there is a place called Polecat Gulch Reserve with around 7 miles of trails that are great for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. The trails are not too hard but have enough grade to get in a good workout. You can bring your dog, too! I hiked Polecat Loop Trail in spring and found rolling hills, great views of the city, and high desert springtime flowers.
Somehow, I ended up living in Denver for almost 20 years. That’s as long as I lived in Texas. I say “somehow” because I never intended to live in Denver as long as I did. I moved there to finish my bachelor’s degree, and then just never left. I love Colorado but Denver was definitely getting too big and crowded for me. My rent had steadily increased every year and the traffic was nuts. Getting anywhere in the city took forever. I had been jonesing to try another town for quite awhile. So, when life recently gave me the opportunity to move to Boise, I jumped at the chance. (My mom says wanderlust runs in the family so I come by it naturally.)
I’d heard nothing but good things about Boise. It’s frequently described as a smaller Denver, with tons of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and skiing, breweries, mountains, a music scene, and a fun vibe. Plus, the Boise River runs right through the middle of town, with easy access to tubing, kayaking, and rafting!