The Mountain Times

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Thundering Falls boardwalk reopens after extensive work

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, The Green Mountain Club announced the completion of the Thundering Falls boardwalk on the Appalachian Trail in Killington. This prominent, wheelchair-accessible resource was extensively damaged by Tropical Storm Irene at the end of August 2011.

"I cannot say enough about the work that the Green Mountain Club has done to help the Green Mountain National Forest recover from Tropical Storm Irene. This is a wonderful example, one of many, where an organization has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to provide quality access to forest visitors of all abilities," said Colleen Madrid, forest supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests.

In Vermont, the Forest Service manages both the Green Mountain National Forest and all the lands acquired by the National Park Service for the Appalachian Trail in the state of Vermont.

The Green Mountain Club's Long Trail Patrol special projects crew rebuilt the boardwalk with guidance and support from the U.S. Forest Service. Much of the boardwalk was washed away and destroyed when Irene caused the Ottauquechee River to overflow its banks.

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"Thundering Falls is one of Vermont's greatest outdoor resources and it provides unique opportunities for anyone to enjoy the falls," said Will Wiquist, the club's executive director. "This project was one of our great prides before Irene destroyed it. Thanks to Forest Service leadership, the boardwalk has reopened barely a year after the storm."

The Green Mountain Club's seasonal staff originally completed the boardwalk in 2008. This section of the Appalachian Trail provides handicap-accessible recreation opportunities near these remarkable waterfalls while eliminating a half mile-long road-walk from the trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine.

Thundering Falls is the sixth tallest waterfall in Vermont. At high water it is a magnificent cascade as Kent Brook tumbles 140 feet through a steep and narrow cataract before intersecting with the Ottauquechee River. The falls are also the site of a historic mill powered by the energy of the falling water.

Green Mountain Club volunteers from the club's Ottauquechee Section (i.e. local chapter) have already reblazed the trail to realign the Appalachian Trail over the boardwalk. The 10,000 member club relies on more than 1,000 volunteers every year to help manage more than 500 miles of hiking trails in Vermont - including the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail and a new trail in the Northeast Kingdom.