Auger Falls Heritage Park Blends Proximity and Isolation in Twins Falls ID

Adventure-seekers find peaceful retreat at Auger Falls Park

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A group of bikers including adults and children watch a biker ride down a slope on the Auger Trails in Southern Idaho.
Michael Conti

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Thanks to a long-term program launched in 2002, Auger Falls Heritage Park, a natural sanctuary mere minutes from the heart of Twin Falls, has progressed from raw, unused terrain into a must-visit destination for outdoor recreation.

The best news? It’s only going to get better.

“We’ve made massive improvements to the park over the years with a measured, long-term approach,” says Lee Glaesemann, staff engineer with the City of Twin Falls. “And we still have a lot more work to do to preserve and enhance this unique setting down in the canyon.”

Majestically Contained

Tucked literally between sloping rock walls through which the Snake River carves its way, Auger Falls Heritage Park is one of the most accessible of the many natural recreational gems throughout Southern Idaho. Twin Falls, working closely with partners and individuals in the community, has nurtured the park since the city bought 600 acres from a private group in 2002 and began planning public access while taking steps to preserve the ecology. A congressional transfer in 2011 boosted the park to 680 contiguous acres.

The park’s pluses include an easily navigable roadway, a number of reintroduced native plants (and efforts to eradicate non-native species), access to the river for kayaking and fishing, the recent addition of wetlands created by piping in recycled waste water — the basins are doing their part to lure waterfowl and advance teeming vegetation — and the placement of a permanent eco-friendly restroom in summer 2015.

Such amenities “give people a variety of outdoor activities that you don’t find in your typical city park,” Glaesemann says.

That variety helps Auger Falls appeal to a range of hikers, walkers, runners, bird-watchers, nature-lovers, wetlands enthusiasts and more.

Two-wheeled Wonderland

The park’s appeal is especially irresistible for cyclists. That’s because the Southern Idaho Mountain Biking Association has developed 20 miles of single-track trails in conjunction with the city’s parks and recreation department.

Bikers like Lee Greer can’t get enough of the winding, picturesque routes through the canyon.

Auger Falls is “really close to town and easy to get to, and the scenery down there is amazing,” says Greer, a longtime cyclist, endurance biker (he set a record by pedaling across Idaho in just over 26 hours), cycling coach and owner of Epic Ride Cyclery in Twin Falls. “The trails also appeal to all levels of cyclists; there’s something for serious mountain bikers but also children and families.”

Locals and visitors alike savor the park’s one-two punch of beauty and access.

“It’s great for out-of-town people because it’s really close by, and you can’t get lost,” Greer says. “It’s all bordered by the canyon rim on one side and by the river on the other side. You can always find your way back to the car no matter where you go, so it’s a very safe and enjoyable place to ride.”

Tender Loving Care

Looking ahead, engineer Glaesemann is confident the park will become even more attractive as the city and community groups work together to maintain it.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the sensitive areas, whether that’s wildlife or historic sites in the park,” he says. “The park has come so far, but we still have a lot to do. There are still a lot of non-native species and weeds to get control of, and it will take time. That’s just part of tending, and making sure we keep the park a place where people can come to enjoy the natural world.” 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phil Newman is a writer, editor, public relations specialist and social-media addict who serves as chief content strategist for NewManifest Communications in Franklin, Tenn. Phil's... more

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Wed, 02/28/2018 - 21:22