BUSHKILL - The employees at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area have announced that the Dingmans Falls boardwalk trail re-opened to the public at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31. The popular visitor destination and local favorite was hit hard by damages from back-to-back winter storms in March 2018 and as a result was closed for the spring and summer while work crews made repairs.
Superintendent Sula Jacobs, who has been on the job at the park for just under two months, was briefed on the storm damages and the work to be done before she accepted the position and seeing it through is one of her top priorities.
“When I got here, I toured the site and was told that the trail would re-open in the spring,” said Jacobs. “I am thrilled that our dedicated team- both on the ground and behind the scenes- was able to get the work done sooner than expected and with no injuries or further negative impacts to the environment. And we are all thrilled to be able to welcome the public back to one of their favorite places, and one of ours.”
Dingmans Falls Visitor Center will re-open as usual in the spring. The lower portion of Johnny Bee Road, the Dingmans Falls Access Road, and the main parking area will remain open until the first significant snowfall. Once the roads are closed for the winter, the trail will remain open and accessible by foot.
The devastating storms uprooted and snapped hundreds of trees along the access road, parking area, and trail. The downed trees crushed, twisted, and lifted boardwalks, stairs, railings and bridges and damaged structures on the grounds.
Work completed at the site includes:Repairs to the boardwalk trail including replacement of approximately 130 feet of new decking; Repair and replacement of two staircases leading to the upper observation area; Repair and replacement of 80 feet of railing including railing on 2 bridges; Precision removal of more than 500 trees from the site, including the access roads and parking lot; Removal of 10 trees from structures on the grounds; Repair of restroom roofs and vents.
“Dingmans Falls is one of the jewels of the park, and of the region, and was a top priority for the park’s trail crew over the past few months,” said William Tagye, Roads and Trails Supervisor for the park. “In addition to repairing damages from the winter storms, the crew has also made some other improvements along the trail that will allow visitors to have a better and safer visit to the falls while making the trail itself more sustainable into the future.” For example, new surface treatments were used to provide better traction on areas of the boardwalk trail that tend to get slippery in the damp shady environment and drainage improvements were made in areas where water runoff or ponding on the trail was an issue.
A few sites yet closed
While the majority of storm-damaged trails and facilities have re-opened, there is still a lot of work to be done at the few sites that remain closed.
These areas sustained a great deal of environmental and/or infrastructure damage and the work there is more complex.Tree removal is scheduled to begin shortly at George W. Childs Park where hundreds of trees fell in tangled masses onto boardwalks, bridges, fences, historic structures, and observation platforms. Sequoia Tree Service of Dingmans Ferry, PA was awarded the contract for that phase of the project. Tree removal is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Planning, design, and environmental compliance work is also underway. At this time there is no estimated opening date. Adams Creek will remain closed indefinitely. Hornbecks Creek/Indian Ladders Trail and Conashaugh Trail will remain closed until work there can be completed. Work on a re-route and repairs to the lower portion of the trail at Van Campens Glen in NJ is set to begin during the summer of 2019.
For updates on trail openings and closures visit their website at www.nps.gov/dewa; call the information desk at 570-426-2452, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; or follow on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS.