The 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt is one of Boise's most beloved
parks. The tree-lined pathway follows the river through the
heart of the city and provides scenic views, wildlife habitat and
pedestrian access to many of the city's popular riverside
parks. The Greenbelt also serves as an alternative
transportation route for commuters.
As you walk along the Boise River Greenbelt, with its towering
trees, lush growth and abundant wildlife, you may get a sense that
this beautiful setting has always been here for us to enjoy.
However, up until the 1960s, the river and its banks served as a
convenient dumping ground for trash, industrial waste and raw
sewage, and was severely degraded by years of neglect.
In 1964 the city hired a consultant to write a comprehensive plan
and update the city's zoning ordinance. He suggested that the city
acquire land along the Boise River to create a continuous "green
belt" of public lands stretching the entire length of the
community. Soon, a local grassroots effort to clean up the waterway
and create public access to the river corridor began to take hold.
This vision caught on and in 1966 and 1967 three small parcels of
land were donated to the city to launch this "green belt."
In 1968, with public interest and support growing, the first
Greenbelt Plan and Guidelines were adopted by the Board of Parks
Commissioners. A Greenbelt and Pathways Committee was appointed in
1969 to guide the City of Boise as it worked to develop the
Greenbelt, and in 1971 the first Greenbelt Ordinance was adopted
which required a minimum setback of 70 feet for all structures and
parking areas. The City of Boise continued to slowly piece together
a patchwork of land along the corridor using several methods of
acquisition including purchase, exchange, leasing and receiving
donations of property by individuals, civic groups and
In 2001, a new directional
and site location system (DOTS) was put in place on the Greenbelt
within Boise City limits which will help Greenbelt users know
exactly where they are in case they need to call for
help. The Distance and
Orientation Trail System, or DOTS, is a series of 20-inch white
spots painted onto the Greenbelt pavement every tenth of a
mile. Inside the white spots are black numbers and letters
that describe the user's location on the Greenbelt. The
numbers represent how far that spot is from the base, or "zero"
spot, which is located at the 8th Street pedestrian
bridge on both sides of the river. The letters inside the
spot indicate what sector of the Greenbelt it is on, such as the
northwest quadrant, or the southeast quadrant.
Today, the Greenbelt is maintained by the Boise Parks &
Recreation Department. We work closely with land owners and other
public agencies to expand and improve the existing pathway.
Bethine Church River Trail
A 1.6-mile section of Greenbelt located in a 24-acre natural
area along the Boise River was renamed in honor of Bethine Church
and her efforts to preserve and conserve public lands. The unpaved
pathway, which extends from the Cottonwood Apartments off
ParkCenter Boulevard to the new East ParkCenter Bridge on the south
side of the river, will be known as the Bethine Church River
Idaho Birding Trail
Greenbelt users can learn about Idaho's native birds and their
habitats thanks to three new signs provided by the WREN
The signs are part of the Idaho Birding Trail, a program
initiated by Idaho Department of Fish & Game employees and
Idaho birders seeking to identify the best places to observe birds.
There are 175 Idaho Birding Trail locations throughout the state.
Twenty-nine sites feature interpretive signs, which provide a
glimpse into the lives of the birds you can find there. More
information about the Idaho Birding Trail can be found at www.idahobirdingtrail.org
The Coeur d'Alene-based WREN Foundation produced the signs with
generous grants from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation and
Inland Northwest Community Foundation. Thirteen other partners also
donated time and/or materials to the sign project.
Illustrated with original artwork by Boise graphic artist Grady
Myers and large color photos, Idaho Birding Trail signs will help
you and your family identify our state's birds and learn about
birds' habitats and behavior. Find out how they raise their young,
what they eat, and what we must do to conserve them for future
The Greenbelt signs are located along the newly renamed Bethine
Church River Trail, a 1.6-mile unpaved walking-only path on the
south side of the Boise River between the new East ParkCenter
Bridge downriver to the Cottonwoods Apartments on Riverstone Lane
in Southeast Boise.
Tips for Greenbelt Use
The Greenbelt is a safe, fun and beautiful place to visit. Users
can enhance their enjoyment of the Greenbelt and guard against
mishaps by following these simple, common sense suggestions:
- Segways are allowed by permit to people with disabilities. Read
Power Driven Mobility Devices policy.
- Stay alert and tuned into your surroundings. Take off
headphones and be aware of what's going on around you.
- Walk confidently. Send the message that you're calm and you
know where you're going.
- Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy,
avoid the person or leave the area.
- Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled areas. Avoid shortcuts
through wooded areas, parking lots, isolated pathways or
- Carry your cell phone. Always know your exact location in case
you need to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- If you think someone is following you, switch directions. If
you are scared, don't be embarrassed to yell for help. Go
immediately to an area where other people are.
- Report every unwanted contact by a stranger to the police. Be
able to describe the person accurately -- height, weight, clothing
and other distinguishing features.
- If you walk on a regular basis, vary your timing and
- Walk with a companion. You may feel safe with your dog, but
unless it is a trained attack dog it won't be much help in a
- Be observant around buildings, bridges, trees and shrubbery
anywhere someone might hide.
If you have concerns about Greenbelt safety please call Boise
Parks & Recreation at 208-608-7600. To report suspicious
activity on the Greenbelt or another park facility, call Boise
Police dispatch at 208-377-6790. If it is an emergency,
dial 911 immediately.
To insure that all users' rights are protected and to guard
against accidents, the Boise Parks & Recreation Department has
established the following courtesies and safety guidelines for
pedestrians, in-line skaters and cyclists to obey.
- Stay only on designated trails.
- Pedestrians have the right of way at all times. Cyclists and
in-line skaters must be aware of pedestrians.
- All Greenbelt users should stay to the right and use caution
under bridges and at blind corners where vision could be
- Pedestrians should not walk more then two abreast.
- Motorized vehicles and hoofed animals are prohibited.
(Maintenance, patrol and handicap vehicles are the exception.)
- All non-paved sections are restricted to foot traffic
- Dogs are allowed only if on a leash - leash not to exceed eight
- Dog owners are responsible for sanitary disposal of dog
- Bicyclists and in-line skaters are encouraged not to conduct
serious training or to maintain fast speeds. Competitive events for
in-line skaters and bicyclists are not allowed because of safety
issues and potential accidents.
- Bicyclists and skaters who wish to pass other users along the
Greenbelt must notify others that they are passing, either verbally
(example: "passing on your left") or by other audible means (bell,
horn, etc.). The person wishing to pass is responsible for passing
freely and clearly around others, and not hindering approaching
- Don't harass or encroach upon the wildlife. Disturbing or
collecting any vegetation or natural habitat along the Greenbelt is
- Glass beverage containers are not permitted.
- Alcohol is prohibited within 250 feet of the Boise River.
Beer/wine is allowed in the following restricted areas by permit
only in conjunction with a facility reservation or scheduled BPR
activity. Ann Morrison Old Timers Shelter, Julia Davis Shelters #1
& #2, Municipal picnic sites #4 & #6.
This location provides opportunities to see birds and other
If you are interested in learning more about birding in Idaho
and the Idaho Birding Trail, see http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/ibt/