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!
Why I Love Stack Rock Trail
I’ve hiked Stack Rock Trail twice in 3 weeks. The first time, I missed the trail that actually leads you right up to Stack Rock. I only saw Stack Rock from a distance. As I was hiking back, I glimpsed an unmarked trail that looked promising but I was too tired to pursue it. The second time I hiked to Stack Rock, I was determined to find and conquer the unmarked trail. And what a fantastic payoff! It’s like a treasure hunt, and the prize is finding Stack Rock, with stunning views of Boise and the Treasure Valley. I plan to go back to Stack Rock again soon, this time to climb the rock itself!
Stack Rock reminds me of another granite rock (pink granite, that is) in the Texas Hill Country. Like Enchanted Rock, Stack Rock has amazing 360 degree views.
Post-Hike Hops: 13th Street Pub & Grill
Stack Rock Trail Hike Details
Stack Rock is part of Stack Rock Reserve, 1,320 acres owned and maintained by the City of Boise and is part of the Ridge to Rivers trail system. Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail is a lollipop that circles Stack Rock. Stack Rock Reserve trails connect to many other trails in the Ridge to Rivers system, making this a great destination for mountain bikers riding from Boise or Bogus Basin. The terrain of the trails throughout the reserve is easy to traverse, not too rocky. Still, I’d say this trail is moderate to strenuous for hikers, because of the steep ascents and descents and the distance (about 10 miles).
Trail markers at the parking lot and for the first few miles are infrequent. After that, trail markers are prevalent and easy to see, except for the small, slightly hidden, unmarked trail that leads directly to Stack Rock. More about that in a bit.
- Hike Distance: About 10 miles
- Duration: Around 4 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Low-High Elevation: 5,320′-5,777′ (the elevation on top of Stack Rock itself is 5,900)
- Dogs Allowed? Yes
- Bikes Allowed? Yes
- Horses Allowed? Yes
- Entrance Fee: None
- Trail Map: Ridge to Rivers
- Driving Directions to the Trailhead: Google Maps (30 minutes from downtown Boise)
- No Outhouses: There are no outhouses at the trailhead or in Stack Rock Reserve.
- Plenty of Shade: This is a walk through the woods, with lots of shade and places to pull off for a scenic break.
- Parking is Limited: There is a very small parking area at the trailhead with room for about 10 cars, and then several pull-off shoulders nearby you can park on. Coming from Boise, the parking area is on the left side of Bogus Basin Rd, just past mile marker 13. The address is 1478 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 83714.
My Stack Rock Trail Route
There are a couple of different ways to reach Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail. You can also decide whether you want to turn left or right on the loop. My route is just one of the ways you can go.
Stack Rock Reserve “Trailhead”
The trail to Stack Rock Reserve is not super obvious and starts below the parking area. The parking area is tiny, a pull-out area more than a parking lot. Just park your car and walk along the edge of the pull-out, and you’ll see the trail.
The first half mile is a meandering single track trail descending through a lush forest. After about 1/4 of a mile, you’ll reach a logging road with a paper sign for Stack Rock tacked to a post.
After 1/4 of a mile, you’ll run into another road that veers to the left. Continue right, in the direction of the cairn.
Check out the views from the road, just before you reenter the forest.
After about a mile, the logging road transitions to a trail heading back into the forest. This is Eastside Trail. At the 2-mile mark, you’ll reach a trail marker that points to Eastside Trail going both left and right, and also Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail to the left. Go left.
Eastside and Sweet Connie Trail Junction
Remember earlier when I said Stack Rock Trail connects to a ton of other trails? Sweet Connie is one of them. You’ll reach a junction with Sweet Connie, which leads back toward Boise, at mile 2.4. You could take a left on Sweet Connie and go for miles and miles on the Ridge to Rivers trail system, connecting to trails like Polecat Loop Trail.
But today, you’re here to hike to Stack Rock! Turn right and continue on Eastside Trail.
Mr. Big Trail
Just a bit up from Sweet Connie’s junction, you’ll see another trail marker, pointing to Mr. Big Trail off to the right, or to Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail straight ahead. Turn right and stay on Mr. Big Trail about half a mile to Big Stack Cutoff.
You’ll continue on through the forest, with glimpses of mountains. I literally heard nothing but birds, a soul-soothing absence of city and road sounds. With the shade and solitude, the smell of pine, I easily could have been in Colorado.
Big-Stack Cutoff is a .75 mile trail that leads to Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail. The trail narrows for this part of the hike, and you’ll also cross a stream. This .75 mile bit of a trail is all kinds of lovely.
Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail is named after Fred Alleman, an avid Rivers to Ridge trail user and Boise citizen. He kicked in a bunch of money to help the City of Boise purchase the 1,320 acres that became Stack Rock Reserve. That’s pretty cool, to have a trail named after you, right? Thanks, Freddy! Stack Rock Trail is awesome.
You’ll reach Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail at mile 3.1. The first time I hiked Stack Rock, I turned left on the loop and had a hard time finding a way directly to the rock. The second time I hiked Stack Rock, I turned right and hit the jackpot.
At around mile 5, there’s an unmarked trail to your left (look for the pile of sticks) leading right up to the granite awesomeness.
Keep going just a bit, and you’ll see another pile of sticks. Just beyond the trees on your left, you’ll see something of a path, inviting you to explore. Do it! It’s so much fun to go off the beaten path and find something amazing.
Take Your Time, Stay Awhile
You’ve worked hard to reach Stack Rock. Now you can take your time, relax, and explore. Stack Rock itself is a stunner. The surrounding, smaller rock formations; views; nooks and crannies; and gorgeous terrain is well worth wandering through, too. I found a secluded spot among the rocks below Stack Rock and took a lunch break, propping my feet up and leaning my head back while taking in the scenery.
But Wait, There’s More
Time to get up from your comfy lunch respite and check out this granite rock. It’s a bunch of fun to do a bit of scrambling around the base of Stack Rock to the south side. And then, do you want to climb to the top? I didn’t, but I saw someone who did and I want to next time!
Back On Track
Follow the trail that continues along the base of Stack Rock, back to Stack Rock Trail. Turn left. Look for another unmarked trail to the right of Stack Rock Trail, around mile 5.5, leading to the west through a meadow. Climb out to the rocks on the edge of the meadow, and you’ll have another great view of Treasure Valley.
Rounding the Loop
The last mile of the lollipop descends back to the Eastside and Sweet Connie Trail junction. For the last few miles of the hike, retrace your steps, back the way you came, to the parking area. Make sure you don’t take a turn on the wrong logging road. I did that, and got sidetracked for about 1/2 a mile.
But that’s life, right?
I’m on a quest to discover the best day hikes close to my home city. What are some of your favorite day hikes? Let me know! And if you liked this post, click here to get an email next time I post!