Camel’s Back Park / Hulls Gulch Reserve (Boise, Idaho)
If you look up Camel’s Back Park or Hull’s Gulch, you’ll be shown pages upon pages of all the great activities you can do around this part of Boise. It’s not a secret that Camel’s Back Park is a popular spot; it’s placement in Boise’s historic North End near Hyde Park is enough to make it a great place to spend an afternoon, enjoying a game of ultimate frisbee, slacklining in the shade or just lounging in the grass and watching the clouds go by. What makes the park extra special is the access it provides to my favorite part of Boise: the foothills.
Hull’s Gulch Reserve was established in the early 1990’s as part of a citizen effort to preserve the land from development. The ponds at the low-end of the hills served as flood control, and as the area continued to build on restoration efforts, plant and animal life crept in to make it their own. Now, fences keep the ponds safe from human and pet traffic, while still keeping them visible for wildlife enthusiasts. I am not a bird-watcher by any means but every time I walk by the ponds I find myself scanning for all the different species that call Hull’s Gulch home.
The 292 acres of land isn’t just for wildlife; humans enjoy the space as an outdoor retreat right in the city. Hiking, trail running, and mountain biking are all popular sports on the trails, and designated dog off leash areas mean that pets can enjoy the foothills along with their people. Boise is a city that caters to dogs, and Hull’s Gulch is no exception, as it’s pretty darn near impossible to be on the trails and not see at least one adventure pup.
My absolute favorite hiking route starts in Camel’s Back Park on the 15th St. Trail. It’s a tough way to begin the hike, but the 5 minute walk up a steep incline gets you to the top of Camel’s Back quickly, and the view of the city is always exceptional. On clear days you can see the Owyhees stretching out to the south of Boise, and if you time it right you’ll be treated to beautiful sunsets that turn the valley rosie pink.
15th St. Trail winds around the back of the hill and although it splits in a few places it always ends back up with #36 Red Fox Trail. Following the Red Fox Trail up to where it connects with #36A Chickadee Ridge will bring you back towards Boise along a hilltop that overlooks the back of Camel’s Back and the Hull’s Gulch reserve. If you decide to continue on Red Fox Trail you’ll cross Sunset Peak Road, where you’ll have the opportunity to experience the Hull’s Gulch Nature Trail. Dogs aren’t allowed in this particular part of the reserve, so if you have a furry friend continue onto #29 Lower Hull’s Gulch Trail. Beyond that the reserve opens up into a number of awesome trails, any one of which is sure to get you in the mood to further explore the Boise foothills and all they have to offer.
I have been lucky enough to grow up near Camel’s Back Park / Hull’s Gulch Reserve and watch the area evolve; new apartments now dot the edge of the park, and roads that were once dirt have since been paved over. In my more angst-filled teenage years, I loved the feeling of disappearing behind the hill and wandering along the trails without seeing another person. Now, as Boise is growing and the outdoor community continues to flourish, it’s highly unlikely that you can get on the trails without seeing other people. It’s somewhat bittersweet, watching a place you love change so much, but I have faith that Boise will grow into the foothills responsibly, and seeing other people enjoy the space as much as I do is uplifting.
If you’re in Boise and have a chance to get into the foothills, Hull’s Gulch is a wonderful introduction to Boise hiking and a great way to experience the outdoors close to the city. Bring your pups, bring your bikes, bring your binoculars, and enjoy a piece of Idaho land that helps make Boise the perfect city for wilderness enthusiasts and casual outdoor recreation lovers alike!