Boardwalk Spans Great Swamp in Pawling, NY

You have to respect the kind of people who dream up things like the Appalachian Trail (AT) boardwalk that traverses what is known as the Great Swamp in Pawling, New York. Sounds more ominous than the Fire Swamp, to me.

Then, you have to respect the people who took the crazy idea to construct a viaduct -- roughly a third of a mile long through a swamp -- and actually did something about it.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of my happy places, but getting volunteers to get this boardwalk completed is just as amazing.

"The boardwalk completed in Pawling, New York is a prime example of the Appalachian Trail's historic legacy of volunteerism," said Mark Wenger, executive director of the ATC. "The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is grateful for all their hard work and their continued commitment to preserving and protecting the AT."

The boardwalk is a 1,600-foot, oak-decked span with a 34-foot bridge that allows AT hikers to cross the Great Swamp high and dry.

The majority of the 75 volunteers who spent two-and-a-half arduous years constructing the route were from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) and the ATC's Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew, but a few traveled all the way from Italy and Great Britain to pitch in.

Crossing the Great Swamp was originally not a problem for hikers, but severe storms over the past decade -- along with a beaver dam -- created many problems. Raised water levels interfered with traditional trail maintenance techniques. A temporary solution was improvised using cinder blocks, wood pallets and planks until the boardwalk's completion.

The newly completed boardwalk had its grand opening on July 1, 2012 where the AT crosses State Route 22.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and NYNJTC coordinated and completed the project. Funds were primarily provided by the Appalachian Trail Park Office of the National Park Service.

The Dutchess/Putnam Appalachian Trail Management Committee, a part of the NYNJTC, coordinated construction efforts and the boardwalk's grand opening. Events included a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a walk along the new route. The event was part of New York's AT celebratory weekend, which included the designation of Warwick, NY as an official Appalachian Trail Community(TM) on the previous day.

Conservation leaders in attendance included Mark Wenger, executive director of the ATC; Karen Lutz, Mid-Atlantic regional director for the ATC; and, Pam Underhill, superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Federal officials and executives from other sponsoring organizations also attended.

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail - ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.

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About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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The Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community invites you to their Appalachian Trail Day Celebration in Pawling, NY, on Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Only the most friendly and dedicated towns are appointed official Appalachian Trail Communities by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.