Over the last few weeks, volunteer crews have disassembled and rebuilt a large new span on the Pisgah Mountain Trail, 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.

Two weeks ago, volunteers hauled a good deal of new pressure treated material, sufficient for two separate spans, in 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 worksite without too much 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. A second bridge will be replaced with all new lumber, and deteriorated bog bridging higher still on the mountain will be replaced with recycled timbers. So, within the span of a month or so, each of the problem structures on the Pisgah Mountain Trail will get a reworking so they may be serviceable for years to come. A week later, the undermined bridge on the Dogwood Swamp Trail was refurbished. It had to be leveled and secured before the following weekend when 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 the four-person 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.

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 Nilson

Click here to view Pisgah Mountain Trail 2015-09-12 Bridge Rebuild photos by John Herrick

Click here to view Dogwood Swamp Trail Bridge Repair 2015-09-16 photos by John Herrick