Maine can be a very wet state- we are famous for our lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. All of these places are very big parts of Maine culture and contribute to the appeal of our natural landscape. Less well remembered are our bogs, our mud holes, and the wet areas that hikers sink into during their travels.
Water is always a concern for building trails in Maine. On slopes, water bars and grade dips are used to slow erosion. In low areas trails need to be built so that hikers can comfortably traverse through wet areas. One of the simplest trail structures one can build is a Bog Bridge.
Bog bridges are a quick, easy way to make a good walking surface in a wet area. They have some disadvantages; they won’t last as long as stone or gravel, but they can be built from wood in areas where stone is not available or where gravel would wash away. Since 2011, the Maine Conservation Corps has been responsible for the construction of more than 19,000 feet of bog bridging throughout the state of Maine.
Bog bridges are built with sills and stringers. Sills rest on the ground and support the stringers. The stringers are staked to the sills and provide the walking surface. The dimensions of the building materials affect how well the bridge wears: sills need to be large enough to provide buoyancy in moist soils but small enough so that the bridge is not difficult to step up onto. Stringers need to be thick enough so that they do not flex when an adult hiker is walking on them. If they flex too much they may be prone to breaking after a few seasons.
It is important to use wood from species that are more resistant to rotting. Cedar is best because it can last for more than two decades in wet conditions without succumbing to rot. Hemlock and Red Spruce are good options too and can last more than 12 years.
Here are some photos of some of the Maine Conservation Corps more recent bog bridging projects.
Photos are from Deidrah Stanchfield, VCL Training Coordinator
This Post Written and Prepared by Dylan Cookson: AmeriCorps Member and MCC Volunteer and Outreach Corrdinator
Contributions to the article made by:
- Deidrah Stanchfield: Community Leader Training Coordinator and MCC/AmeriCorps Alumna who provided photographs
Content derived from instructions written by Lester Kenway