Improvements make Trail 5 more accessible, less scary
By Duncan Wood
The Brook Trail (Trail
5 on the cross-country skiing map) runs along both sides of Eastman Brook
downstream of the Orr Dam. The trail is one of the most beautiful locations in Eastman’s
trail network, but access has always been limited and challenging. The access
point at the east side of the dam was very steep and a safety risk to many of
our skiers. It was also hazardous for
walkers, who could slip and fall on the steep, grass surface. That has now
It all started with
the Walk and Bike Steering Committee that met for many months in 2014-2015. The
committee assessed what enhancements should and/or could be made to improve
walking and biking opportunities at Eastman, consistent with one of the goals
of Plan 2020. The consensus at the end of the committee’s effort was that the
focus should be on improvements to the existing network of trails and roads,
and not on the construction of new trails. The objective was to make the
existing trails safer to use and available for diverse use by more people
during more months of the year.
One of the priorities
identified was the improvement of access to the Brook Trail at the dam. Funding to initially allow work on the trail
network was included in the FYE 2019 ECA budget. Safer access to Trail 5 was
selected as the first project to undertake. The first step was to obtain a
topographic survey of the eastern side of the dam and the adjacent slope. A
design was then prepared to dramatically reduce the trail’s slope by
constructing a rock retaining wall to support a new, more gradual incline along
that side of the dam. The existing slope was 33%, or 1 foot of vertical drop
per 3 feet horizontal. The proposed design reduced the slope to 14%, or 1 foot
vertical per 7 feet horizontal. Thus, the new proposed trail would be less than
half as steep as the old one.
The next step was to
obtain a Shoreline Protection Permit from the NH Department of Environmental
Services. This was necessary since a portion of the proposed construction was
within 250 feet of the shoreline of Eastman Lake, even though the work was not
in the watershed of the lake. An application to the Eastman Environmental Control
Committee was also submitted to obtain approval for the removal of six trees.
the required permits were in hand, a request for proposals was sent to several
local contractors, and Kevin Roberts Excavation LLC was selected. The
construction was completed under-budget in October-November 2018, in time for
the winter ski season.
The trail was groomed using the Pisten Bully after the first major snowstorm in January. Skiing down the slope is now much less scary and the climb up the slope can be done using “fish scale” skis without the need to herringbone – a huge improvement.
in the years to come, many more people will discover the beauty of the Brook
Trail now that one can walk, ski, and bike to the foot of the dam with greater
safety and ease. Skiers and walkers can park at South Cove Activity Center and
enter the trail network at the top of the dam without trepidation. Those who
start in West Cove can reach John’s Glen without having to ski or walk down the
formerly death-defying slope.
funding is available, other improvements to the walk and bike options at
Eastman will hopefully be implemented.
Wood is a member of the Common Properties Committee and served on the Walk and
Bike Steering Committee.
Winter scene: Sally Wood Fall scene: