A Spring Hike Up Table Rock

Arrowleaf balsamroot was all along the trail and in full bloom

The forecast for today was sunny with a high of 76 degrees. It looked like it was going to be the first real day of spring, and on a Saturday yet. Sandy, and our out-of-town guest Mary Beth, had a class at the Quilt Crossing. It looked like it was a good time to go for a hike. Anything in the mountains would still have a lot of snow of course, but there are some good spring hiking opportunities right here in the valley. I decided to head up to Table Rock.

I parked at the trailhead just behind the Bishop's House and Old Idaho Penitentiary. I was lucky to get a spot - there must have been at least a hundred cars there. The round trip hike to the cross at the top and back is a little over three miles round trip with 750 feet of elevation gain. It's a very popular trail that's often compared to Camelsback Mountain in Phoenix (which I hiked up about twenty five years ago). I started up the trail with lots of other people and dogs.

I was surprised at how many flowers there were in the foothills. A lot of hillsides were covered in a yellow flower that looked like a sunflower to me, although in our family Sandy is the expert on flora, not me. Afterwards I looked it up and found out that the flowers were arrowleaf balsamroot. The common name is...Oregon sunflower. So I was close.

A vinyard in a suburb within the Boise city limits

There are a lot of trails on and around Table Rock. Rather than heading straight for the cross, I wanted a longer hike. About two thirds of the way up I veered off on the trail to Table Rock quarry. This took me up to the cliffs farther to the east where rocks were quarried to build the Old Penetenciary and other buildings in Boise many years ago. It is the local rock climbing area. Many years ago I used to come up here many weekends to do rock climbing, at least until I found out that I wasn't a very good technical climber. That's when I went into general mountaineering and started doing scramble peaks instead of technical summits. But it was fun to walk along the cliffs and check out some of the climbs that I did many years ago. I even scrambled up the break in the cliffs, which isn't obvious unless you know where to look for it, which we used to use to go up and down when we were climbing.

I hiked all the way to the far side of Table Rock and then dropped down to the saddle beyond. From there I climbed to the top of the next hill to the east. Instead of two hundred people, like the top of Table Rock, there were only two others besides me. As with all hiking areas, you don't have to go that far to get away from the crowds.

Looking up towards Table Rock

On the way back I did go to the top of Table Rock. All day I saw only one car drive up the road that goes up the backside. That is a ratio of about a hundred to one of people who hike up as opposed to drive. Not bad.

Coming down I took a side trail by a vinyard. Yes, a vinyard. It's only about a mile from the state capital and downtown Boise, right in a subdivision. I took a sign shot so I could see if I could track down a bottle of the wine made from the grapes. It actually made for a nice photo looking back up to Table Rock with the vinyard in the foreground.

The pictures were an experiment. I got a new Galaxy S5 just this past Monday - I had preordered it. My old phone, an Apple iPhone 3GS, had a horrible camera. So I wanted to test out the camera in my new phone to see how much improvement there had been in the four years since I bought my last phone. You can judge for yourself since the pictures in this post were all made with my S5, but I think that they are pretty darn good for a phone.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again so I am going back to hike Table Rock again with Sandy and Mary Beth.