Last fall a new boardwalk was added over a muddy section of the Red Trail near the power lines to help people explore more of Adams Farm.
The section of the trail where the boardwalk now sits was very wet and poorly maintained, but it linked the Red Trail to other parts of the Farm. Realizing this, Friends of Adams Farm (FOAF) board member Chris Gibson approached Adams Farm Committee (AFC) Chair and fellow FOAF board member Jack Wiley about building a boardwalk over the wet areas. It turned out that Jack had the same idea, so when the Walpole Conservation Commission (WCC), which Jack also chairs, purchased some additional land needed for the project, the boardwalk became a reality.
Planning and preparation for the boardwalk project took about a year, beginning in the fall of 2020. Gary Riggott, head of the Walpole Trials Committee, was a key contributor. He was instrumental in the planning and design phase of the project, helped sort out many of the logistics issues, and rounded up additional volunteers including his wife Deb and son Steve to help out. Gary also borrowed an ATV from the Walpole Ponds Committee which was used to move materials from the barn to the construction site.
FOAF President Roy Noepel and AFC Chair Jack Wiley also pitched in on the project. Roy took several trips with Chris to the build site prior to construction to help take measurements and discuss planning. Jack coordinated with the WCC during the planning process and facilitated funding and reimbursement from the AFC.
The project was funded by FOAF and the AFC, with additional donations from the New England Mountain Bike Association and FOAF member Jeremy Ritzenberg. Koopman Lumber supplied most of the materials at a 10% discount. Gilmore’s provided some additional support blocks which were needed for the wettest and muddiest areas of the trail.
The boardwalk itself measures roughly 220 feet. It’s made up of four sections, the largest almost 100 feet long. Over 650 pieces of Trex decking were custom cut to create its surface.
The design of the boardwalk was adapted on the fly as the crew ran into a variety of obstacles during construction. One of the biggest challenges was crossing a stream which required a 20-foot section of boardwalk since supports could not be used in the middle of the section. Another challenge was building the section of the boardwalk right before the stream, which necessitated working knee-deep in mud to lay the foundation and build the supports. Amazingly, everyone worked without complaint.
Construction began in October on Columbus Day weekend, continued prior to Thanksgiving, and was completed at the end of November. The volunteer turnout was exceptional, with 20-30 people helping out at various times over the course of the project. Steve Hern was a big help with the initial build on Columbus Day weekend, cutting the angled sections for the corners of the boardwalk. Also helping out that weekend were Norma and Bob Frieden who spent most of their time in the barn cutting long Trex boards into treads. The two of them cut 80% of all the treads used in the boardwalk. Matt Lundsten and his two young sons loaded the cut treads onto a trailer hooked to the ATV and transported the materials from the barn to the construction site.
Many of the volunteers were Chris’ friends and family members. His dad Rich was there for every day of the project. His wife Allison helped out most days, as did his cousin, Andrew Eckstrom. Also lending a hand were his father-in-law, Bob Martinelli; his brother-in-law, Jared Martinelli; his brother- and sister-in-law, Bob and Jill McNamara; and his friend, Dan Holder.
The boardwalk project was a joint effort of FOAF, the AFC and the WCC. Combine the cooperation of the Town boards with the vision and energy of FOAF board member Chris Gibson and the many volunteers, and we now have a wonderful boardwalk for hiking and biking on the Red Trail at Adams Farm.