Sustaining Trails at New Hampshire’s Cathedral Ledge

The Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team returned to Cathedral Ledge State Park in New Hampshire earlier this month for the third consecutive year to address trail maintenance needs at the base of the cliff. This year, the team is taking on a six-week project to replace an old wooden staircase that has been used to access the staging area below the Thin Air Face. And it seems the crew arrived just in time—the rotting staircase finally gave way the same day the crew arrived, detaching from its footings and sliding down the steep stab.

The Conservation Team rigged a highline cable system and began moving the 3.5 tons of Conway granite needed to build a durable set of stone stairs and retaining walls. Using the highline cables, the team moved the stone blocks—some weighing as much as 900lbs—across the steep slope below the cliff to the build site, where they are employing drystack stone work skills to split and shape the rock into the stairs and walls that will mitigate erosion and provide a sustainable route for climbers to access the cliff. The new rock staircase will provide climbers with a convenient and sustainable route to traverse the base of the cliff, overcoming a steep slab below the Big Flush and the popular winter ice route, Goofer’s Delight.

A big thanks to locally based Sterling Rope Company for providing both funding and the specialized tools and rigging equipment needed for this extremely technical job.

“Sterling’s pulleys and ropes held up to the demanding nature of trail work, despite being exposed to rain, dirt, mud, and heavy loads throughout the course of these projects,” says Mike Morin, Access Fund’s Northeast Regional Director.

And a special thanks to Google for providing a stewardship grant to help make this project possible and to local partners: Friends of the Ledges, The North Face Boston, Appalachian Mountain Club, North Country School, Salt Pump Climbing Co, and numerous local volunteers for ongoing support throughout the course of this project.

Upon completion of this six week project, the Conservation Team east crew will head to New York where they will team up with volunteers in the Adirondacks and Thacher State Park to shore up the slopes at these popular New York climbing areas. Check out our Events Calendar to see if a Conservation Team will be visiting your area!

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Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Jared Musgrave

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