New Bridges Grace the Pisgah Ridge Trail

Over the course of the last few weeks, volunteer crews have disassembled and rebuilt several new spans on the Pisgah Mountain Trail, added a long board walk alongside a wetland along that same pathway, and raised and firmed up a bridge on the Dogwood Swamp Trail, a span whose northwestern footing had been undermined by the stream beneath causing the deck to pitch and fall Several weeks ago, volunteers hauled a good deal of new pressure treated material, sufficient for two separate spans, from the Kilburn parking lot and up to the Pisgah Mountain Trail worksite, using pickups, and an ATV machine and cart. Sometimes utilizing the winch on the ATV, the crew was able to get all the materials and tools up to the lower construction site without too much additional hand-carrying.

The support stringers under the span over a rivulet that drains a small bog had deteriorated to the point that the bridge’s usefulness was in jeopardy. So the decking was removed and the stringers sawed into sections and rolled aside. The sills that supported the bridge were rotten, so they were pulled up, as well. Two trees that were in poor condition and would eventually threaten the bridge were cut down. Once the site was clean, new pressure treated sills were installed and 18-foot double stringers set in place across the brook. With ten souls on hand, it did not take very long to set the deck in place and erect the railings. At the uphill side of the span, a wide step was installed so that access to the bridge would be no trouble whatsoever.

While the project was underway, several in attendance ferried new material and the used pressure treated decking from the old span farther up the trail. Two weeks later, the second bridge higher on the ridge was torn down and replaced. Used materials from both bridges were shuttled still farther up the mountain to yet another project. Like the first span, the second one was replaced with pressure treated lumber. Heavy rock stepping stones were placed at each end to provide a comfortable step up Later the same day, the good used materials that were salvaged from the lower bridge sites were modified and assembled into a long boardwalk over wet footing bordering a small bog high on the ridge. The boardwalk replaces a string of long rotted puncheons that had deteriorated to uselessness.  Much of the work on the boardwalk was carried out in the afternoon, but the project wasn’t quite finished. Two days later, three volunteers returned to hammer in place the last boards. A good deal of clipping was also completed in the area to make the going much easier, and a few short bypasses were cleaned out to get around troublesome wet seeps.

Another project got some attention, as well. A bridge on the Dogwood Swamp Trail, undermined by high water, was refurbished. It had to be leveled and secured before marathon race runners were to cross it. Park manager Whip Newell brought in screw jacks to lift the bridge and left the jacks in place for a four-person Friends of Pisgah crew that came in several days later. Using shovels and a mattock, native stone and soils, the four workers were able to build a stone crib below one end of the bridge to support the three sound stringers. Since stream water had eroded one side extensively, a good deal of stone was inserted under the structure and piled to the upstream side to keep the bridge stable and to prevent future erosion. Once the task was completed, the bridge was approximately level and the approaches were smoothed. See FriendsofPisgah.org for more details.

There is more work to be done on the Pisgah Mountain Trail spans in the near future. So watch for the opportunity to lend a hand building the second span and putting in some bog bridging.

Kim Nilsen

Click here to View 10-10-2015 photos by John Herrick

Click here to view 10-12-2015 photos by John Herrick