Healing A Battered Brook Crossing at Gap Mountain

Laurel Swope-Brush | August 3, 2023
Lush green forest with a low bog bridge to cross a wet and muddy area of trail.

Photo: Hiel Lindquist

By Hiel Lindquist, Volunteer Land Steward at Gap Mountain

Volunteer land stewards for the Forest Society are responsible for not only monitoring assigned property reservations, but also provide regular maintenance on many hiking trails. Gap Mountain, in the southwestern part of NH, has over 3 miles of trails that are heavily used. It is not uncommon to meet camping groups of 50 or even 75 hikers during the summer. These trails are also used year round, even during the winter months.

While constant maintenance keeps the trails in decent shape, sometimes more drastic action is required.

On the north trail there is a small brook crossing not too far in from the trail head. This crossing had been a problem

Construction of wooden bridges in a wet area with a few volunteers in a forested landscape.
 for many years. The brook drains a flat, swampy area before crossing over rocks and ledges at a small waterfall. Over the years this area had become a muddy but also dangerous section of trail. Hikers, in trying to avoid the mud and rocks, had created a wasteland of trampled vegetation 100 yards wide.

By 2021 this area had become increasingly precarious, especially with the increased trail use due to the pandemic. This situation was brought to the attention of the staff of the Forest Society, who came out to investigate. The estimate was “wow, this is really bad, we need to get a project to correct this situation.” After measuring and planning, a project was planned for the spring of 2022.

The project involved the installation of a bridge approximately 20 feet in length, followed by five 16 foot sections of boardwalk. A crew of volunteers from the Forest Society and other land stewards completed the project in May of 2022. Several pictures show the construction. The pictures also document the extensive area of erosion surrounding the project area.

Lush green forest with a low bog bridge to cross a wet and muddy area of trail.

New pictures from 2023 show how the area has recovered. The bridge and boardwalk keep hikers on the trail and out of the mud. New growth has begun to cover the area, halting the erosion. Over time the forest will rebuild the soil and completely naturalize the area.

Thanks to the Forest Society and everyone the contributed to this project.