In the winter and spring of 2016-17 the Teton Range had a record snow year and subsequent spring run-off. The weight of the heavy wet snow and ice storms of late winter caused many of the old bridges on the 50 miles of trail on Teton Pass to crack or fail. The raging creeks in the spring then flooded bridges and knocked several off of their abutments.
Friends of Pathways has partnered with the Bridger-Teton National Forest for 20 years on trail maintenance projects and we worked to assess all of the bridges and make a plan to replace them.
With the funds from the National Forest Foundation's Ski Conservation Fund we were able to purchase materials and build 14 bridges with our Youth Trail Crew and the help of numerous volunteer groups in the summer of 2018. We had 256 volunteers donate 852 hours of their time to this project over the summer, helping to carry the 20,000 pounds of lumbers and hardware into the woods to the bridge sites.
We started the summer by building the first bridge on National Trails Day in only three hours! The six members of our Youth Trail Crew worked diligently with the U.S. Forest Service over the next nine weeks in the summer to build these bridges allowing all user groups to safely cross the many creeks without disturbing the stream banks.
This has had year-round benefits for trail users too. One of our friends who has skied Teton Pass since the 1950s said this was the first winter he didn't fall in a creek and get his boots wet while skiing out thanks to our new bridges.
This efforts of this project helped make a heavily-used trail system accessible to trail users and completed a backlog of maintenance for the USFS. The Teton Pass Trail system saw an average of 910 people per day during the 2019 summer season. The enjoyment of the trail system by so many was due largely to support from the National Forest Foundation on projects like this!