SHREWSBURY-There is good news for hikers with a section of the
historic CCC Road between Plymouth and North Shrewsbury having been
The repairs have made the road passable to both the Stone
Chimney and the Black Swamp Road parking areas, which serve as
trailheads for hikes to 3,737-foot Shrewsbury Peak.
Beyond the Black Swamp lot, however, there is a cement barricade
as the last two miles down to Route 100 have not yet been rebuilt
and are unsafe (and impossible) for vehicular travel. This section
received major damage from Tropical Storm Irene but will be
repaired so people can use the entire CCC Road next year.
The Gecha Brothers completed the repairs in late August. They
repaired culverts and washouts, dug ditches, and put down a gravel
bed as needed to the Black Swamp Road. In addition, they repaired a
section of an old road off the Plymouth Road that is used for
hikers and cross-country skiers, again good news for outdoors
recreation this fall and winter.
The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation was
responsible for getting bids to fix these areas and is currently
revisiting the cost to fix the last section in Plymouth which
sustained serious damage and requires a major fix. They sent a memo
to Shrewsbury residents last May noting that they understood "the
importance of the CCC Road" and their intention to reopen the road
as soon as possible, stating it would be done under two different
The CCC Road is used as a seasonal shortcut for many people who
reside in surrounding towns as well as by travelers who get
directions over the Internet. Since Internet maps have not been
updated, they frequently find themselves inconvenienced by the
The Forests and Parks department worked with both FEMA and the
engineering firm of Dubois and King and had "to reconcile a
considerable difference in estimated costs for repair of the most
damaged sections of the CCC Road between the first switchback after
the Black Swamp Road to Route 100 in Plymouth," according to the
May 7 letter, which explains the delay for that section.
Having driven this section for over 35 years and having walked
up it from the Route 100 entrance, where a sign notes only foot
traffic is permissible now; it is understandable how difficult this
section will be to repair. It has a steep hill and cliff-like
drop-off where a 1934 "cribbing" of railroad ties - that secured
the roadbed to the mountainside - was torn apart from cascading
waters. Repairing this will be a significant engineering task with
plans calling for replacing the cribbing with concrete blocks or
cement. It will also be necessary to replace/repair all of the many
culverts that were destroyed as well as backfill washed-out
The funding issue has come up again since the bids recently came
in significantly higher than the FEMA estimate, but hopes are to
resolve the issue and to rebuild this section so people can look
forward to enjoying the entire road in 2013.
In the meantime, those with a penchant for hiking have two
trailheads with ample parking areas that are now accessible. The
first is at the Stone Chimney and provides a more challenging route
to the peak with some steep sections at the top.
The Black Swamp Lot is further east. Its route starts along the old
road, which makes for a colorful mile-long gentle hike up to a
scenic wooden bridge - easily doable for those with babies in
backpacks or dogs needing a walk. From there the hike goes steadily
uphill but is moderate and doable for most ages. It rewards with
nice vistas as does the view from the peak itself.
A final reminder: Once snow flies, which can occur early in this
high-elevation mountainous area, the CCC Road will be marked
"closed" and gated once again. It will not be plowed beyond the
last year-round residence where a yellow sign at the end of that
driveway warns "Road not maintained in winter." Don't attempt it in
a vehicle unless you want to risk getting stuck and a huge bill to
get out and/or spend the night in the woods!