In 2011, these trails were severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. With the help of several partners, the White Mountain National Forest has completed enough work to reopen them this fall. According to Forest Service trail crew lead Caitlin Campbell, “Working in Dry River is always an adventure, and we’re excited to have the trail open so the public can enjoy the adventure as well.”
The agency said hikers should understand that these trails have been reconstructed at a lower standard than most trails they are familiar with and from what was there before. They can expect a narrower and rougher tread, and will need to occasionally find the route in order to navigate the length of the trail.
This work comes during a year when the country celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, which allowed Congress to set aside tracts of public land to be managed for wilderness values. These trails and others in the Presidential-Dry River Wilderness, managed in the spirit of Wilderness values, provide visitors a primitive experience with lower development levels than a typical White Mountain trail.
The Forest Service noted it was not able to complete this work alone. Numerous partners provided input surrounding the decision to continue to provide trail access in these areas, but to a lower and more sustainable standard. These partners included the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire State Parks, surrounding towns, local trail clubs, outfitters, guides, and interested members of the public.
This project was a part of the NH Drinking Water Improvement effort with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and is a part of the Treasured Landscape Campaign with the National Forest Foundation (NFF). NFF continues to raise funds for trail restoration work in the Presidential Range, focusing on resources to reopen the still-closed section of the Rocky Branch Trail, located in an adjacent drainage to Dry River. Work on the Rocky Branch Trail is expected to occur in the summer of 2015. Anyone interested in helping NFF with this effort can find more information at www.nationalforests.org
More information about the Dry River and Isolation trails, is available by contacting the Saco Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest at (603) 447-5448.