Hikers in New Hampshire’s White Mountains will have to make alternative plans in the coming weeks as a popular trail damaged two years ago by Tropical Storm Irene is undergoing repair.
White Mountain National Forest officials say starting August 8 a section of the Lincoln Woods Trail in Lincoln accessed by the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) will see major work done to remedy the erosion caused by the massive storm in August of 2011.
While the trail was stabilized for short-term use, a section of this popular trail requires extensive restoration.
The trail is an integral link for hikers seeking popular destinations like Franconia Falls, Bondcliff, Thirteen Falls Tentsite, the summit of Owl’s Head, and the challenging Pemi Loop. It is also a favorite with low-key mountain bikers, runners, and walkers seeking a gentle experience that includes navigating over old railroad ties on occasion. In winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers plow through the snow on it.
The trail is linked to logging history and remnants of its past are literally at the feet of any hiker or biker who treads there. Timber baron J.E. Henry ran his logging railroad from the deep woods to a mill in Lincoln in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The trail was once the main trunk for the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad. Railroading lasted until the late 1940s.
Officials say a piece of the pathway from the west side of the scenic suspension bridge over the rocky East Branch of the Pemigewasset River to the Osseo Trail junction will be closed while construction is underway.
The project, which involves the use of heavy equipment to transport, place, and compact gravel along the 1.2-mile section of trail from the Kanc to a damaged culvert, is scheduled to continue into October but the closure is expected to be lifted in the second half of September.
Approximately 500 feet of the Lincoln Woods Trail, which follows the East Branch of the Pemi, will be realigned away from the eroded river bank to a safer and more sustainable location.
Even though there is work to be done, weekend warriors will likely experience some relief.
“Although we try to minimize the impact of closures on the experiences of Forest visitors, this trail is such a popular trail year-round, there is no good time to complete the extensive work necessary,” said Jon Morrissey, Pemigewasset District Ranger. “We have worked with the contractor who will be performing the repairs on the lower portion of the trail and they have agreed to avoid work on the weekends. With this in mind I’m confident that we’ll be able to have the trail open safely to the public every Saturday and Sunday as normal.”
Hikers will be able to use the Eastside Trail, located on the other side–the east–of the river. This will provide access into the wilds of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. However, there is no bridge across the river so hikers will have to plan accordingly and assess risk.
While the trail is closed, hikers are advised to consider alternative routes which may increase mileage to various destinations.
Rangers will post signs at trailheads with specifics about the closure while the project is underway.
Image by Marty Basch