Outdoors Blog

Table Rock trails closed; extent of fire damage unclear

Scenes from the Table Rock fire

Firefighters battle an early morning blaze in June 2016.
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Firefighters battle an early morning blaze in June 2016.

The popular Table Rock trail system has been closed pending further review of the damage caused by the fire that ravaged the area early Thursday morning.

The Homestead trail, which connects from Harris Ranch into the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, also is closed.

The fire burned all 164 acres that the city of Boise owns in the area surrounding Table Rock.

[Story: Restoring Boise’s burned wildlife area will take time, volunteers.]

“We’re still in the process of assessing damage to the trails and have a temporary closure of the trails in the entire area until we get a sense of the damage both from the fire and necessary and important firefighting activities,” said Sara Arkle, the Foothills manager for Boise Parks and Recreation. “Once we have that assessment, we’ll know how long those closures might need to remain.”

The fire burned the trail system east of the junction of the Table Rock (15) and Old Pen (15A) trails, which are the two options to begin the hike from the Old Pen to Table Rock.

The Tram trail, which starts across the street from Warm Springs Golf Course, Rock Garden trail, Table Rock Loop, Table Rock Quarry trail and Rock Island trail completely burned, Arkle said. Portions of the Table Rock trail also burned.

table rock map

Further east, portions of the Homestead trail burned.

The Castle Rock trails, which go west from the Old Pen, didn’t burn and remain open.

In all, the fire burned land owned by the city, Idaho State Historical Society, Idaho Fish and Game and U.S. Forest Service.

The main focus of the rehab effort will be making sure people stay on the original trails and don’t branch out, Arkle said. The city spent $25,000 last year on rehab efforts along the Table Rock trail, so she’s eager to see how that area fared in the fire.

The Bureau of Land Management used hand crews rather than mechanized crews in the Table Rock area because of the rocky ground, Arkle said, which could limit some of the damage.

The city also needs to study whether any slope stabilization needs to be done and what will be needed to restore the soil and vegetation, she said.

“We could see some new growth next season,” Arkle said.

Fireworks have been cited as the cause of the Table Rock fire.

“It’s just a great opportunity to remind people of the extreme fire danger in the Foothills,” Arkle said, “and any tiny spark can cause grave damage to people, property and resources that are of incredible importance to this community. I really want to encourage people to act responsibly and think first.”

That includes giving Table Rock a break.

“Please stay off (the trails),” she said. “We would encourage people to enjoy the (150-plus other miles) available throughout the system. ... Giving these trails a rest probably isn’t a bad idea for a little while.”

This is the second fire in a week that damaged Ridge to Rivers trails. Here’s a post from earlier this week on the Big Springs fire.

Here’s more detail and history of the Table Rock trail system.

Watch as a fire-fighting helicopter pulls water from a pond in the Harris Ranch development in East Boise.

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