Bog bridging at Glidden Point Preserve no match for rising tides

Bog bridging at Glidden Point Preserve no match for rising tides

Trail closed for now

The future of the trail at Glidden Point Preserve, formerly the Salt Bay Heritage Trail, is uncertain, thanks to increasingly high tides and storm surge.

The trail begins across from Lincoln County News and Publishing in Newcastle and traverses a salt marsh via a long chain of bog bridges before skirting the northern shoreline of Glidden Point in Great Salt Bay.

This series of bog bridges next to Route 1 which protects the sensitive marsh from foot traffic has required almost annual maintenance over the years, as high tides and winter ice tend to shift the spans no matter how securely they are anchored. But in recent years, not only do high tides reach closer to the barrier created by Route 1, but the frequency and severity of storm events have become greater.

By 2022, many of the bog bridges were rotting and beginning to break apart. Coastal Rivers’ trails team developed a plan to replace the deteriorating bridges and at the same time relocate the trail closer to Route 1, in hopes that the slightly higher elevation and greater distance from the average high tide would help keep the trail intact. Over four workdays between August and December, staff and volunteers hauled in materials, cut back brush along the new route, and constructed 900 feet of new bog bridging.

Then, in mid-December, just two weeks after the last bridge was put in place, the big storm hit. Bringing wind gusts up to 65 mph and torrential rain, it caused widespread flooding. The municipal parking lot in Damariscotta was closed due to the flooding, many households were left without power, and at Pemaquid Beach Park, 15 feet of sand dune was swept away along with the end of the boardwalk. When the tide receded at Glidden Point preserve, the new bog bridges were in complete disarray.

This puts us in a difficult situation. The scattered bog bridges are not fulfilling their intended purpose and now present a safety issue. With the trail bounded as it is by Route 1, there is no more room to relocate the path. We are exploring the possibility of moving the trailhead east of the salt marsh, but traffic travels at high speeds along that stretch of Route 1, making it a dangerous place to pull in and out.

For now, we have made the difficult decision to close the portion of trail that crosses the salt marsh. The new bog bridges will be put to good use at other nearby preserves. On Thursday, April 20, about 20 volunteers from Kieve Wavus Education joined Coastal Rivers staff as part of a service project to help carrying out several bridges. The rest will be removed in coming weeks.

“It’s a tough decision for the organization because it’s a long-established trail,” Stewardship Director Brad Weigel commented. “We’re hoping to figure out a way to get it opened back up.”

Bog bridges in disarray at Glidden Point Preserve

The bog bridges along Route 1 at Glidden Point Preserve in Newcastle are in disarray at high tide following heavy rains on May 1.