North Country
11:52 am
Thu April 26, 2012

New AMC Guide Editor: Irene Did Most Trail Damage In Decades

Tropical Storm Irene’s heavy rains did more serious damage to trails in the White Mountains than any storm in decades, says one of the authors of the new 29th edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide.

“It was only a limited number of trails, but the ones that were damaged were damaged very badly,” said editor Steven Smith of Lincoln. “It was mainly restricted to the trails that run along streams.”

But some of those trails washed out and will be very difficult to repair, according to Smith.

“The Dry River Trail near Crawford Notch is an example,” he said.

In the last few decades the other storm that did the most damage to trails was the ice storm of January 1998 which brought  down branches and trees, Smith said.

“I remember going up the Kanc to the Greeley Ponds Trail and thinking I might take a walk in to see what it looks like. Branches were just crashing to the ground one by one with sounds like cannon shots. It was very dangerous,” he said.

But that storm primarily and temporarily blocked trails, Smith said, while Irene sometimes washed them away.

However, overall most of the area’s trails weren’t affected.

Smith estimated only about 40 trails out of more than 500 in the book “had damage of some sort or another.”

The 29thedition of the trail guide is the first updating since 2007.

Smith said he and co-editor Mike Dickerman, of Littleton, hiked hundreds of miles and drove thousands of miles checking trails.

But hiking each trail is impossible and they also relied on information from people ranging from those who maintain trails and employees of The White Mountain National Forest to hikers.

The White Mountain National Forest also has details about closed or damaged trails on its web site as well as a request for volunteers interested in helping restore them. To find that go here.