New Popolopen Trail Bridge Reconnects Bear Mountain Trails

December 06, 2012
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


New Popolopen Trail Bridge Reconnects Bear Mountain Trails



The finished Popolopen Bridge and north accessLink for the Timp-Torne, 1777W, and 1779 Trails back in place

“The bridge is finished.”

So announced John Mack, West Hudson South Trails Chair volunteer for the Trail Conference. John had been working with managers and staff at Bear Mountain State Park to replace the 62-foot long trail bridge in the Popolopen Gorge, a key link between trails north of the Gorge and the rest of Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park trail system. The bridge, a major volunteer accomplishment when it opened in 2004, was destroyed by flooding after 2011’s Hurricane Irene. It has been sorely missed by hikers.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) purchased the replacement bridge, which required assembly, and also provided extensive aid in preparing for its installation. PIPC staff trucked materials to the site, rebuilt the bridge foundations, and installed scaffolding in the Popolopen Creek. Volunteers from the Trail Conference and our member clubs completed the bulk of the bridge installation over several days in late November. Eddie Walsh (Tahawus Trails) supervised the set-up of rigging and the “flying” of the trusses into position. Jolly Rovers crew volunteers contributed substantially in the “flying” portion of the work and installing much of the remaining structure. Later, other volunteers completed the bridge assembly, which included inserting and tightening the 372 decking bolts by hand.

Finished Popolopen Bridge and access walkwayThe bridge was structurally complete by November 28, and on December 6, upon completion by PIPC staff of a temporary access to it from the north bank, John Mack reported it to be open.

Big thank-you to: the PIPC managers and field staff who were so helpful with this project, and to the following volunteers: Duane Card, David Chase, Robert Chen, Bob Cohn , Evan Colgan, Doug Comeau, Chris Connolly, Alfred Curtis, Walt Daniels, Bob Fuller, Dennis Hickey, Fred Howley, Chris Ingui, Joan James, Sue Lent, Jesse Levin, John Mack, Debbie Melita, Kerry O'Brien, Tom Oliver, Greg Paret, Rich Raschdorf, Ron Rich, Cliff Robinson, Jr., John Rowen, Noel Schulz, Gail Sherman,  Anne Marie Tallberg, Yulena, and Steve Zubarik.

Volunteers prepare to "fly" a bridge truss into position.