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Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting the Sterling Marsh Trail Out of the Mud

setting posts for boardwalk
setting the posts for the raised boardwalk (photo by Ed Chappel)

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from the Spirit of the Woods Chapter

Anyone who has hiked through the Sterling Marsh area of the Manistee National Forest (Michigan), any time of the year except perhaps August or September, knows that you can usually plan on wet feet. In fact, in the spring, you could be wet to your knees.

After many years of negotiating with the Forest Service, the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA has been given permission to build a raised boardwalk through the wettest area of the marsh. Challenge Cost Share money from the National Park Service was applied for, and granted.

The boardwalk will be built in three phases, over three years time. This year the work was begun in June on 436 feet. To date, 72 feet have been completed, but another work day is scheduled for Friday, July 24.

completed boardwalk section
completed boardwalk section(photo by Ed Chappel)

Trail work coordinator, Ed Chappel says, "Building a boardwalk through a marsh is much more complicated and time consuming than leveling a trail or preparing or constructing log bridges. Our goal this Friday will be to lay out the post locations in the next two sections, 24 ft and 80 ft. Hopefully we will get some post holes dug and poles set in preparation for the club work day on Sat. Aug 8th.

"The other task if we have enough people will be to cut a bunch of 2x6's and 2x8's into 3 ft lengths. That way we can have the generator down on the job and use electric drivers instead of battery ones."

Hopefully, in just a few seasons, Sterling Marsh will be one of the best places for a day hike, instead of one of the worst on the North Country Trail.

North Country Trail Trail

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