Hiking Table Rock


Just a few minutes outside of Boise, you’ll find the Old State Penitentiary and the Idaho Botanical Garden, behind which you’ll find trails that lead up to Table Rock, which at around 3200 feet offers amazing views of the city and a wonderful hike.


Paul and I went up there this weekend with one of his coworkers, his lovely wife, and their baby girl (and if I was pretty tired by the end of the 1.6 mile hike, it was probably nothing to what they felt). After being a little put off by the dead snake at the trail head (it suddenly occurred to me that I had been remiss to not check on the kind of snakes native to this area), it turned out to be a great hike, moderately challenging, but with gorgeous views. We were certainly not alone in our climb, as the area is extremely popular, and there’s a great feeling of camaraderie. It’s very open, and you can see for miles as you climb, rewarded with spectacular views at the summit.


When we arrived and looked towards our goal, Paul and I noticed a giant cross, which seemed strange and continued to seem strange when we were up close, so I did some research on it. Table Rock was once used by Native Americans as a place for ceremonies and healing rituals, and now plays host to a tall, white cross that overlooks the city. Built in 1956 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Table Rock Cross has been a source of controversy for about 60 years. Though Table Rock is technically on private land, following a small sale of the tiny parcel surrounding it, the circumstances behind the sale were considered a little shady, and there was some talk in 1999 that the sale of land would be found unconstitutional and the cross taken down. However, there was a huge rally to keep the cross in place, and so there it stands. There’s also a giant “B” for Boise painted on rocks on the ground in front of Table Rock that are painted new colors every so often, usually blue or orange for the BSU Broncos. When we were there this last weekend, it was red.


I appreciate that for many people, the cross is a symbol of faith and its presence is comforting, but in my opinion it distracts from the natural wonder of the area and doesn’t help non-Christians feel very welcome. However, it doesn’t look like it will be taken down anytime soon, so as others have done before me, I’ll just have to make peace with it. The area is beautiful after all, and the views can’t be beat. It still makes my list of one of the top things to do in Boise.

What’s your opinion on the Table Rock Cross?

2 thoughts on “Hiking Table Rock

  1. Irene says:

    I feel uncomfortable when some lines between church sand state are crossed. I am strange in the fact that I do not mind saying under God in the pledge of allegiance. Probably a generational comfort makes one easier then the other. I think your information on the tiny purchase just to circumvent the law very interesting. Looking forward to seeing this edifice when we come to Boise in the future . Thanks for sharing.


    1. I think it’s our little inconsistencies like that that make us human. The pledge of allegiance is a very similar issue, except that you choose to affirm it by saying it, and you have a different interaction with it than with an object that is part of a public landscape.


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