After temperatures soared into the 90s last week in Kuna, more and more people can be seen floating through downtown Kuna on Indian Creek.
Unlike the Boise River, which is yet to be opened to floating by the city of Boise, Indian Creek is never “opened” or “closed” by the city, said Parks and Recreation Department Director Bobby Withrow. It is, and always has been, an “at your own risk” activity, he said.
While the city takes a relatively hands-off approach, Kuna isn’t without creek leaders. Local float-enthusiast Keith Hartmann is one of them. For the last five years, he’s been floating the creek around 30 times each summer to enjoy his retirement. Now, he’s one of three administrators of the nearly 400-strong Indian Creek Floaters Facebook group and still racking up miles of frequent floating.
In between King and Kuna roads lies the most popular put-in spot for floaters on Strobel Road. Hartmann says that a few have tried entering the creek from Eagle Road, but they’ve had a rocky go and have enjoyed little added fun from the minimally boosted mileage.
But for the majority of floaters, Strobel Road is the go-to boat launch. But for others, it’s been a site marked by littering — a problem that brings Hartmann to his first rule: “plan to pack it out.”
Just off Swan Falls Road is the next stop on a typical float of Indian Creek. Floaters can take a break and walk along the greenbelt or use the splash pad by docking their rafts on the creek bank where many cool off on hot summer days.
Some make unscheduled stops here, though, and sometimes it inadvertently becomes their final destination. Many floaters pop inner tubes and what Hartmann calls “pool toys” during the first stretch of water, forcing them to find rides to where they parked further down the creek. Hartmann advises packing a patch kit and using a raft or boat that’s nylon-finished rather than vinyl alone if floaters want to avoid hitchhiking or flat out hiking to their cars.
The Parks and Recreation Department does clear debris and obstacles when staff are aware of them, said Withrow, but there are no guarantees.
The most popular takeout point is in Crimson Point Subdivision, which, floated straight through, gives boaters and tubers around two hours and 45 minutes on the water. Floaters have to be careful here, though, Hartmann says. When floating under a footbridge, creek goers need to stay left of the pillars supporting the bridge, or they may meet the fate of Hartmann’s friend who bruised his backside dropping off a short concrete ledge and into a small whirlpool on the right side of the creek.
Fortunately, though, most of the creek is shallow enough for adults to stand up in it, though the rocky creek bed has encouraged experienced floaters to wear water shoes or old athletic shoes to protect their feet. But those aids don’t negate the Indian Creek floaters’ obstacle-evading rule of thumb: always stay left.
The takeout at Crimson Point, like all other takeouts, isn’t marked, so Hartmann says it can be easy to miss. That brings him to his next rule: first-time floaters should float with someone who knows the creek.
Black Cat Road
Less often than not, floaters continue past the subdivision toward Black Cat Road for around 45 minutes of added floating — placing the trip total at three and a half hours by Hartmann’s estimate. The creek bends out of sight of homes and into a steep, rock wall corridor that features two waterfalls and an angled creekbed that kicks up a faster current.
“It’s just raw nature,” he said.
Hartmann warns to be careful while on the creek though. The water is running especially high right now, and it’s “not the time for first-time floaters.” While he hasn’t floated yet this season due to cold water temperatures, a few others have. Together, they’ve reported a popped raft stuck in some branches, a couch that was dumped in the creek and a fallen tree between the Swan Falls Road and Crimson Point takeouts. The former two seem to have been removed, though some debris remains.
Floaters also need to be wary of entering and exiting the river on private property. Homeowners associations, like that of Discovery Creek Subdivision, have complained in the past of loitering and intoxication on private property, raising issues for floaters.
Haartman has a few other tips for floating the river, too:
- Bring a two-sided kayak paddle. It’s the difference between “power steering and not power steering.”
- Pack a lunch. There are long, calm stretches and a cove before Crimson Point where floaters can relax.
- Don’t wear flip flops. They litter the creek and its banks every year.
- Have a good time. “It’s a hidden gem.”
Most of all, Hartmann hopes responsibility will keep things the way they are this float season.
“It’s a privilege and it’s pristine, and if people don’t respect it, that privilege will be taken away. You want to respect the landowners and the nature of the creek. Use common sense.”