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While the rest of the world fussed and worried about the Aurora cinema massacre yesterday, I headed for the hills. It was to be a group hike with the Idaho Conservation League, but I must have crossed wires because I never got the meet-up information. Heck with them. I know where Stack Rock is, I’ll hike solo.

The hike to Stack Rock has tantalized me for nearly 30 years. The iconic pillar of granite thrusting skyward from the Boise National Forest is a landmark visible from much of the valley as well as from the nearby ski area. When I first came to this area, I heard stories of hiking, biking to and even climbing Stack Rock. But before I had the chance to participate in any of those activities, private landowners blocked access to the site. Two years ago the city of Boise pooled funds from its Foothills Levy with a generous donation from local resident, Fred Alleman, to purchase land near Bogus Basin ski area and Stack Rock, thus providing legal right of way to the landmark. Now Freddy’s Stack Rock loop trail leads hikers and bikers to and around the rock feature. I’ve made two half-hearted attempts to get to Stack Rock during the past year. This time I made it all the way.

The almost five-mile trail resembles a sagging mattress: broad, reasonably smooth and flat in the middle, with steep climbs at either end. Given its proximity to a metro population of over 600,000 people, the trail is heavily used, especially on weekends and most especially by mountain bikers. The advantage to traffic is that the bikers clear the trail of annoying spider webs. For such a popular trail, it is remarkably litter-free. After about an hour came to a rock monument honoring Alleman, which marks the beginning of the loop section. I chose to ascend the steeper southern side and came out on the slightly longer but more forgiving north side of the loop. The entire trail is well maintained and in places, it traverses drop-dead gorgeous forest. It took another hour from the rock junction to pile of rocks piercing the top of the forest.

Several cyclists and hikers had reached the rock before I arrived. A handful of brave souls had climbed to the very top. I had to be satisfied with the top of one of the lower outcroppings. I fought the temptation to pick my way higher. I know that going up is a lot easier than coming down. Later fact-checking research verified my wisdom. On June 30th, the Idaho Army National Guard had to helicopter-rescue an injured climber from Stack Rock. It’s difficult, but sometimes just saying no to myself is the wisest strategy. I sat on my lower pinnacle eating my snack, fiddling with my camera, and watching a sparrow bedevil a chipmunk, wait—did I just see that?

Now that I’m sure of the way to Stack Rock (when in doubt, always take the left fork), this area will become a staple—although I’ll probably stick to less congested weekdays for my adventures. Several enticing trails branch off the Stack Rock trail to provide variety.

For locals who’ve never been to Stack Rock, set your odometer at Curling Drive (Highland Elementary School). Drive up Bogus Basin Road for 11.8 miles to an unmarked side-road parking area to the left of the road.  When I arrived at 8:15 AM, there were only two other cars. By my return at 1:15, this small parking area was chock full. The entire hike took a little over four hours, not counting my goof-off time at the rock.

Thank you Fred Alleman, for your generous contribution to the Treasure Valley.

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I got all the back to town to discover this scene in a random front yard on 9th Street.