Thundering Falls boardwalk rebuilt and reopenedANDERS AX
Correspondent | November 24,2012PROVIDED PHOTO
The Green Mountain Club’s Long Trail Patrol special projects crew reopened the Thundering Falls trail bridge recently, a handicapped accessible portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Killington.After many months of planning and labor, the Green Mountain Club, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, has finally reopened the Thundering Falls boardwalk.
Tropical Storm Irene devastated the walkway last year when approximately 275 feet of the boardwalk washed away, said Dave Hardy, GMC director of trail programs, during a phone interview.
Will Wiquist, GMC executive director, said “more than one-third the total length of the boardwalk” was “destroyed and mostly irretrievable” after the banks of the Ottauquechee River overflowed and carried it away.
“A few hundred yards away what was left of it was twisted and mangled,” Wiquist said.
Not only were the materials of the boardwalk ruined — a project that had been completed almost exactly four years earlier — but the land supporting the boardwalk’s foundations had been eroded. Rebuilding the earth would prove to be the most difficult challenge to the project, Wiquist said.
After several months of funding and planning, a four-person crew rebuilt the boardwalk in two months, with help from other trail crew members. The areas of the ground that had been washed away were first filled with truckloads of stone before rebuilding the walkway. The boardwalk was built to its original specifications from four years before.
“Luckily,” Wiquist said, “the members who built the original built the replacement.”
“This project was one of our great prides before Irene destroyed it,” Wiquist said in an article published on the GMC’s website. “Thanks to Forest Service leadership, the boardwalk has reopened barely a year after the storm.”
Wiquist was very proud to provide those with physical disabilities the ability to see the falls and enjoy the great outdoors again.
“(There’s) not always a lot of opportunity to provide that accessibility,” Wiquist said.
Thundering Falls is one of the few wheelchair accessible trails in the area, let alone Vermont.
Hardy said that, off the top of his head, it was only one of four fully handicapped accessible areas on the Appalachian Trail. The others were located in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, he said.
The original Thundering Falls project had been part of a 25-year process to take the Appalachian Trail off local roads and put the trail back into the woods, Hardy said.
“It was the capstone to the effort to relocate the (trail) junction at Thundering Brook Road,” Hardy said.
The boardwalk would eliminate a one-half-mile walk down Thundering Brook Road for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts and instead lead them to the falls’ trail junction.
For more information on Thundering Falls boardwalk and the GMC, visit www.greenmountainclub.org. For more information on the U.S. Forest Service, visit www.fs.fed.us.MORE IN Local & State
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