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Thread: Condition Of Webster-Jackson Trail

  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Condition Of Webster-Jackson Trail

    SAT I took a cruise up from Rte 302 to Washington and started with Webster-Jackson Trail to Mt Jackson. I haven't taken this trail in at least two years (and last time was in the Winter) and I was pretty shocked at how trampled out and braided it was. Have they done actual trail work to this trail to widen it intentionally? I usually have a pretty good recollection of trails in memory and it felt like I was walking this trail for the first time, especially the section before the split. It seemed much wider in the lower 2/3's or so, had tons of side paths and herd paths and in places appeared that possibly some work was being down on relocating some sections for the future. There are a few specific rock features I recall being awkward in the past that now have a 3-4' clearing on either side of them now. There also seemed like several places where the forest seemed more open than I recall. Thought maybe a storm in the past few years might have been to blame.

    Was thinking of that woman from Alabama who complained about the trail not too long ago and had to reassess my take on her story a bit as I was climbing. That trail does indeed seem like it is getting ripped up pretty good. Was just curious if anyone here was aware of actual trail work done to these sections or if it has indeed been trampled and eroded that substantially in just the past few years. If it is just foot traffic that is a troublesome sign.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    SAT I took a cruise up from Rte 302 to Washington and started with Webster-Jackson Trail to Mt Jackson. I haven't taken this trail in at least two years (and last time was in the Winter) and I was pretty shocked at how trampled out and braided it was. Have they done actual trail work to this trail to widen it intentionally? I usually have a pretty good recollection of trails in memory and it felt like I was walking this trail for the first time, especially the section before the split. It seemed much wider in the lower 2/3's or so, had tons of side paths and herd paths and in places appeared that possibly some work was being down on relocating some sections for the future. There are a few specific rock features I recall being awkward in the past that now have a 3-4' clearing on either side of them now. There also seemed like several places where the forest seemed more open than I recall. Thought maybe a storm in the past few years might have been to blame.

    Was thinking of that woman from Alabama who complained about the trail not too long ago and had to reassess my take on her story a bit as I was climbing. That trail does indeed seem like it is getting ripped up pretty good. Was just curious if anyone here was aware of actual trail work done to these sections or if it has indeed been trampled and eroded that substantially in just the past few years. If it is just foot traffic that is a troublesome sign.
    I'm not sure if this is unique to this trail. It seems that just about every major 4k route I've been on recently is considerably more trampled than it was even a few years ago.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I'm not sure if this is unique to this trail. It seems that just about every major 4k route I've been on recently is considerably more trampled than it was even a few years ago.
    True, but this section seemed particularly torn up relative to my travels in other places. I noticed on Edmands Path coming back that there are a lot more herd paths around the small ledges than I remember. In a lot of places the side paths avoid things that really are not that hard at all or in cases were trickier than just following the path.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    With influx of new hikers, a lot of trails get beat up during the shoulder seasons now. Just a small layer of ice, can send barebooters off to the sides, given the ground is soft, it takes it toll. I've seen many people off to the sides of trails, Webtser/Jackson, Edmonds, Crawford path, Falling Waters. They all share a common trait, noobs love them.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    With influx of new hikers, a lot of trails get beat up during the shoulder seasons now. Just a small layer of ice, can send barebooters off to the sides, given the ground is soft, it takes it toll. I've seen many people off to the sides of trails, Webtser/Jackson, Edmonds, Crawford path, Falling Waters. They all share a common trait, noobs love them.
    Yeah, this is definitely a noticeable trend. Lots of steeper parts are starting to look like the woods by the Flume Slide. I'd venture to say that any steep ledge section on a main route to a 4k suffers from this, and I concur that a lot of this damage is apparent in shoulder season (often see leaves and mud torn up) on light snow.

    I suspect most people suffer through at least one hike where they should have had traction before they plop down the dough to get them. Mine was on Whiteface after Thanksgiving about ten years ago. I think the large influx of hikers will take a few more seasons before they really catch on and start to despise the next wave of new hikers.
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    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    One of the hurricanes - Irene I think, 2011 - absolutely beat the heck out of that trail, and I think that was the start of the problem. I haven't hiked that one in a couple of years now so maybe it's gotten a lot worse.
    Sure. Why not.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    The popularity of hiking has increased wear and tear on all the popular routes. I heard on one day, the trail steward program for the Franconia Ridge loop, counted just shy of 1000 hikers in one day. That's two thousand boots/shoes, pounding that trail in one day!!!

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    One of the hurricanes - Irene I think, 2011 - absolutely beat the heck out of that trail, and I think that was the start of the problem. I haven't hiked that one in a couple of years now so maybe it's gotten a lot worse.
    This was post-2011. I started seriously hiking in the Spring of 2012 so the damage was in past 3-4 years that I've noticed the difference.

    Irene definitely hammered some trails for sure. I did the Rocky Branch Trail from Jericho Road all the way up to Isolation earlier this Summer and there are some really impressive examples of erosion. I remember one spot in particular where you're walking along a nice flat section and approach a clearing and the trail abruptly drops 50' to the rocks below. Was a very cool trail actually.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 08-16-2017 at 07:19 PM. Reason: Added thought
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Yeah, this is definitely a noticeable trend. Lots of steeper parts are starting to look like the woods by the Flume Slide.
    I recently redid this trail too earlier in the year. It was actually a more difficult trail than I remember but you can literally bypass every ledge on the trail, making it far less difficult. Makes you wonder when reading trip reports on Facebook and elsewhere about people doing the trail and saying it was a breeze whether they're actually out on the wet ledges or in the woods hanging from trees.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Senior Member wardsgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    SAT I took a cruise up from Rte 302 to Washington and started with Webster-Jackson Trail to Mt Jackson. I haven't taken this trail in at least two years (and last time was in the Winter) and I was pretty shocked at how trampled out and braided it was. Have they done actual trail work to this trail to widen it intentionally? I usually have a pretty good recollection of trails in memory and it felt like I was walking this trail for the first time, especially the section before the split. It seemed much wider in the lower 2/3's or so, had tons of side paths and herd paths and in places appeared that possibly some work was being down on relocating some sections for the future. There are a few specific rock features I recall being awkward in the past that now have a 3-4' clearing on either side of them now. There also seemed like several places where the forest seemed more open than I recall. Thought maybe a storm in the past few years might have been to blame.

    Was thinking of that woman from Alabama who complained about the trail not too long ago and had to reassess my take on her story a bit as I was climbing. That trail does indeed seem like it is getting ripped up pretty good. Was just curious if anyone here was aware of actual trail work done to these sections or if it has indeed been trampled and eroded that substantially in just the past few years. If it is just foot traffic that is a troublesome sign.
    I've seen this trail grow wider and wider in the past 12 years that I have been the Region Leader for the Southern Presies. More traffic from the Highland Center and more hiker traffic in general, makes this trail prone to widening. A longer hiking season with a milder spring weather and more hiking activity, such as peakbagging, contributes to erosion on this trail.

    A great deal of work was completed on the Jackson Branch a few years ago, which improved the treadway on that stretch. Both the Jackson Branch and the Webster Branch have avid active adopters and they usually look terrific.

    As for this stretch (Route 302 to The Fork), it definitely needs a lot of work. Eventually, rock work with step stones that should funnel the hikers onto the treadway instead of the sides of the trail will allow the vegetation on the sides of this section to regenerate. But trail work doesn't "magically" happen- if anyone is interested, this stretch of trail that DayTrip writes about is available for adoption.
    AMC Adopt-A-Trail Program Region Leader Emeritus: Pemigewasset 1993-2005 Southern Presidentials 2005-2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardsgirl View Post
    More traffic from the Highland Center and more hiker traffic in general, makes this trail prone to widening. A longer hiking season with a milder spring weather and more hiking activity, such as peakbagging, contributes to erosion on this trail.
    Quote Originally Posted by wardsgirl View Post
    it definitely needs a lot of work. Eventually, rock work with step stones that should funnel the hikers onto the treadway instead of the sides of the trail will allow the vegetation on the sides of this section to regenerate. But trail work doesn't "magically" happen
    Very important notes on this trail that relate to so many others.

    We are reaching a crisis in terms of the rapid deterioration of standard 4K routes. The amount of damage in just the past few years is staggering. If we don't stabilize these trails soon, the pendulum will swing to the point in which significant portions cannot be saved.

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