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Thread: RIP - Moriah Brook Suspension Bridge

  1. #1
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    RIP - Moriah Brook Suspension Bridge

    Reportedly the National Forest is in the process or already has removed the Moriah Brook Suspension Bridge this week under the guise that when it fails it could impact downstream structures. Given the natural impediments in the channel that is laughable but I guess that after the Thoreau Falls Bridge fiasco, they wanted it gone before the public took it up as cause. The bridge itself was in good condition, mostly in need of new deck boards but the easterly abutment was eroded back by Hurricane Irene. We stopped by on a hike about a month ago and the abutment did not appear to have failed. In normal water conditions this section of river is not passable without a bridge. The option for hikers on Moriah Brook trail is to hike the Highwater trail 6 miles north to the Hastings Bridge or go back 2.5 miles on the Highwater Trail to the former Spyder Bridge crossing (not a great idea in normal flow conditions).
    Last edited by peakbagger; 10-02-2016 at 11:44 AM.

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    or go back 2.5 miles on the Highwater Trail to the former Spyder Bridge crossing (not a great idea in normal flow conditions).
    I unwisely crossed there several years ago on what I'd assume were normal conditions. It was mid-summer. I made it across but it easily could have gone bad. That's a pretty wide spot and I hit thigh deep pockets.

    It's a shame about that bridge. Certainly limits safe access to some great trails.
    Joe

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    So what bridges are left in the Wild River Wilderness now? This would seem to severely cripple access to the area unless you chance a river crossing(s). If one were to make a loop of Moriah Brook Trail, Carter Moriah Trail and Black Angel Trail is that even possible anymore? Wish I had gone up there last year while there were some bridges left. Only area of the Whites I have not been in. Sounds like it will be pretty tough now.
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    The bridge was just outside the wilderness boundary. That means they could have used heavy equipment to repair it. I expect they are using heavy equipment to tear it down.

    The Highwater trail runs from the Black Angel junction all the way to the new bridge in Hastings (at the point where the road to the Wild River Campground turns off of RT 113). The loop described in the prior post is still possible using the High Water trail, the only issue is bailing out along the Wild River is lot more difficult. The Wild River trail in this area is an old road bed, quite fast and easy to walk even in the dark. The Highwater Trail is decidedly less so.

    The Forest Service has an ongoing study to come up with alternatives to the bridge, I just don't think anyone of them include replacing the bridge.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The bridge was just outside the wilderness boundary. That means they could have used heavy equipment to repair it. I expect they are using heavy equipment to tear it down.

    The Highwater trail runs from the Black Angel junction all the way to the new bridge in Hastings (at the point where the road to the Wild River Campground turns off of RT 113). The loop described in the prior post is still possible using the High Water trail, the only issue is bailing out along the Wild River is lot more difficult. The Wild River trail in this area is an old road bed, quite fast and easy to walk even in the dark. The Highwater Trail is decidedly less so.

    The Forest Service has an ongoing study to come up with alternatives to the bridge, I just don't think anyone of them include replacing the bridge.
    I was looking at this last year as a possible day hike loop parking at the Wild River Lot. That is impossible now without a fording of the river correct? It looks to add about 5 miles or so to the loop which probably pushes it out of day hike consideration. Never hiked in that area so I have no idea how rough the footing is on the trails and it was borderline to start with, at least for me.

    Also, how is that area for foliage? Does it's remoteness (relative to other parts of the Whites at least) make it a more likely place to avoid the crowds during leaf peeping season? Maybe I could do a Shelburne to Moriah Loop as opposed to including the Carters.
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    With the current stream flows you could cross the Wild River barring a tropical storm moving over the area. Its record dry and as long as the leaves are out any rain will get sucked up by the ground and plants. That said this is highly unusual and anyone visiting the area will see the large number of washouts and eroded banks. The Wild River can and does live up to its name on occasion and not just in the spring.

    It does really take the loop out of consideration as a day hike for most. The option of starting on the other side of the ridge via Stony Brook is probably more reliable than hoping that a suitable safe crossing can be found over the wild river. If you use the Stony Brook shortcut via the old route from the development, its probably a close match without dealing with the Wild River.

    Unless Moriah Brook trail has been maintained in the last year when I did it last year if was very poorly maintained up high. Mud pits and brush across the trail in some sections up high transitioning to open woods. Blazing is non existent and some of the numerous stream crossings require searching for the trail after you cross. The lower areas along brook look to have had heavy use in the past with many old campsites growing in. There is great swimming along the brook so I expect during the late seventies/early eighties backpacking boom it was real popular. A real rough comparison is Sabadday Brook trail once you have dropped off the ridge but with far less use. Black Angel Trail on the other hand is remarkably well maintained with a great trail bed trimmed wide. I haven't done Highwater trail for years but its always been the poor cousin to the Wild River trail on the other side of the river. The Wild River trail is an old main trunk road bed with only one spot in the woods where the river washed it out.

    The area doesn't get a lot of use until you go south to the Baldfaces. The campgrounds get a lot of use but not a lot of hikers. Lots of hardwoods in the area so the colors would be nice. Its a bit farther north so the leaves will change a bit earlier than the main area of the whites. I don't have my maps handy but there is loop up to the ridge line north of the Baldfaces that include the Basin Rim Trail that might be one to try.

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    Senior Member TDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Maybe I could do a Shelburne to Moriah Loop as opposed to including the Carters.
    I did this loop up MB down Shelburne via Wild River last year early November. We didn't have to get our feet wet at the Wild River crossing. Even recrossed on the return in the dark. Disclaimer: The gf and I are relatively nimble.
    Edit: Just looked at my records and said crossing was done at 48 cfs/2.55ft on the gauge.

    I've also forded the Shelburne Tr Wild River crossing before in late July with no trouble. That one is no chance of a rock hop and was knee to thigh deep at the time.
    Last edited by TDawg; 09-23-2016 at 09:46 AM.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDawg View Post
    I did this loop up MB down Shelburne via Wild River last year early November. We didn't have to get our feet wet at the Wild River crossing. Even recrossed on the return in the dark. Disclaimer: The gf and I are relatively nimble.
    Edit: Just looked at my records and said crossing was done at 48 cfs/2.55ft on the gauge.

    I've also forded the Shelburne Tr Wild River crossing before in late July with no trouble. That one is no chance of a rock hop and was knee to thigh deep at the time.
    Thanks. Gage is 9.8 cfs right now so I guess that wouldn't be much trouble even for me (I am NOT relatively nimble on water rock hops). How is the overall terrain on those trails? Comfortable footing? Rough? I've only done the stretch from before Moriah to Shelbourne-Moriah summit. Lot of PUD and slick ledges and bog bridges from what I remember (although I did pretty late in year - there was ice). I also seem to recall reading that Shelburne Trail can be hard to find. At this time of year with shorter days I'm thinking I'd be better off going up that way so I definitely have light if it is sketchy. Any thoughts?
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    I think the nastiest part of the hike is the climb down off of North Carter on the AT (carter Moriah Trail) south of the Imp Shelter. More than few folks have been carried off this stretch due to injuries. Its not long but steep slabs and chutes north facing so they stay wet.

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    Senior Member TDawg's Avatar
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    It's gotten better since Irene whipped out the trail through the flood plain, but that's still an area you have to pay attention in the Shelburne's southern end. Best to do that while fresh and in guaranteed daylight. Other than that I've had no trouble either time through there following the trail. Don't remember anything to extreme in terms of roughness, but my tolerance for bad trail is pretty high I think.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I think the nastiest part of the hike is the climb down off of North Carter on the AT (carter Moriah Trail) south of the Imp Shelter. More than few folks have been carried off this stretch due to injuries. Its not long but steep slabs and chutes north facing so they stay wet.
    I fully agree. Going either direction there is tough. One of the appeals of doing Sheburne and Moriah Brook is that you can skip that stretch! Going CW you can do the ford last and it's a short easy walk back to your car.
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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDawg View Post
    It's gotten better since Irene whipped out the trail through the flood plain, but that's still an area you have to pay attention in the Shelburne's southern end. Best to do that while fresh and in guaranteed daylight. Other than that I've had no trouble either time through there following the trail. Don't remember anything to extreme in terms of roughness, but my tolerance for bad trail is pretty high I think.
    There were a series of helpful cairns through the floodplain last May, and the tread was discernable. I did it at night after doing the Ford and had no problems, but I consider myself pretty good at trail finding. The only additional this g to add is that the Kenduskeag trail was fairly brushed in, so lots of shin scraping. Hopefully that's better, but it would have been a lot of work!
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    The growing destruction of hiking trails and related structures in the WMNF is extremely troubling.

    We need *more* well maintained trails and associated structures.

    The bridge removal trend has perhaps received a pass due to the last few dry summers, but when we inevitably get another wet one, I suspect we'll be reading about rescues and/or fatalities.

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    Most of the bridge removals are removing access to wilderness areas, correct? What good is a wilderness area if no one can access it?

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    Two sides of the coin, actually. How long will a wilderness area stay " wild" if access is easy and assisted ?

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