Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another Paugussett Reroute at Birchbank

Birchbank Reroute Location

The latest reroute of the Paugussett Trail bypasses what may have been the most tedious -- and at times treacherous -- section of the entire trail. The new trail makes hiking from Indian Well to Birchbank Mountain a safer and more enjoyable trek. There are still some challenging spots along this stretch of the Paugussett, notably "The Boulders" where you need to use your hands, but some hikers find the Boulders to be the fun type of challenge. 

Old route - straight up the loose rock on a 40% slope
The south end of Birchbank Mountain is very steep and covered with rock rubble. In an effort to circle around a particularly bad section, the old trail veered down the slope before heading straight up the rocky hill. Years of erosion loosened some of the rock and it wasn't clear where exactly you were supposed to put your feet. The "trail" was essentially ten feet wide. Northbound hikers descending this hill had to use extreme caution, especially if it was wet out or there were fresh leaves.  

Old route went down then back up. New route is more level.

The new route is shorter with less elevation gain as it cuts straight across the bony hillside. It starts by passing through a very difficult area with lots of boulders and massive Yellow Birch tree roots over mostly level ground, then rises gradually through an area of ferns before leveling out again to cross another rocky area. The reroute was challenging to construct but much easier and safer to hike. 

The rocks and yellow birch roots were a challenge at the north end

Middle section: Much easier getting up the hill now!

South section levels out, passing through more rock

Here are profiles of the old route compared to the new route. The new route is about sixty feet shorter because it cut the corner. The old trail went down 26 feet in elevation and then gained 46 feet. The new trail starts out level, then gains 20 feet, then levels out again. The old trail had a 42% slope on loose rock. The new trail has a slope of 14% on packed dirt. 

Slope profiles (southbound)
So now if you want to do the Overlook to Overlook hike between Indian Well and Birchbank Mountain, it should be a bit more enjoyable.

Overlooks at Indian Well and Birchbank

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