Hiking & Trails

Boise aims to expand this popular Foothills recreation area — and add a restroom

A popular Boise Foothills recreation area could get a bit bigger and add vital amenities thanks to a deal between the city and a local business.

On Wednesday morning, Mayor David Bieter joined representatives from Boise Parks and Recreation, Boise City Council and Healthwise, a local non-profit that creates content for health insurance companies, to announce the addition of 8 acres of land to the Hillside to Hollow Reserve off Hill and Bogus Basin roads.

The new parcel would extend the reserve north and west of Harrison Hollow Lane around the existing Healthwise parking lot. The addition brings the reserve to 324 acres. The city of Boise manages 258 acres, which it purchased in 2013, while the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley manages 58 acres acquired in 2011.

“This, I think, is just really the icing on the cake that we needed,” said Doug Holloway, director of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The purchase of the new land must be approved by the Boise City Council before it can move forward. If approved, the project will be backed in part by the remaining $140,000 from the city’s $10 million 2001 Foothills levy. The total cost of the parcel is about $435,000. Additional funding would come from the 2015 Open Space and Clean Water Levy.

“We’ve worked so hard on Foothills acquisitions, and there’s so much good news within that,” Bieter said. “But this could be, if not the best, certainly up there in the top.”

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A rendering shows where an additional parcel of land, in purple, would join the existing Hillside to Hollow Reserve in the Foothills of Boise. The 8 acre parcel, sold by Healthwise to the city of Boise, would allow for installation of a parking lot and restroom if approved by City Council. Boise Parks and Recreation

Holloway said funding already has been secured to add a flush toilet and parking lot at the east side of the reserve.

“This acquisition will allow us to get on to other issues in such an important place, such a used spot, to add amenities that are going to be important,” Bieter added.

The city has worked with Healthwise before. The nonprofit “was a major donor in the effort to protect and preserve the Hillside to Hollow area in the early 2000s,” according to a Boise Parks and Rec news release.

In 2016, Healthwise offered 18 spaces in its parking lot for recreators accessing the adjacent Hillside to Hollow Reserve — up from five spaces in previous years. The agreement was temporary pending Healthwise’s anticipated expansion. Holloway said those 18 spaces will no longer be available once a dedicated trail parking lot is created. The new lot should have 25 parking spaces, Holloway added.

Healthwise CEO Adam Husney said the expansion of the nearby reserve will be a boon to his company’s employees and to the community.

“Healthwise has been a huge supporter of the city of Boise, huge supporter of the trails,” Husney said. “We see this as an opportunity for the employees of Healthwise to take better care of themselves, and for the people of Boise to take better care of themselves.”

Boise City Council will decide whether to approve the acquisition during its regular meeting on Feb. 26. Parks and Recreation will take public input to develop the trailhead and amenities if the project goes forward.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.