Walking the Boardwalk in Eastham

EASTHAM — The popular boardwalk trail through the red maple swamp at Fort Hill is now fully repaired and open as of this week, according to the Cape Cod National Seashore.

“We finally got it done,” said resident Noreen Thompsen, who has been a primary local voice of concern for the past two years pushing for repairs to the Red Maple Cedar Swamp Trail, to the point of writing to first lady Michelle Obama in 2016 to ask her to visit the trail.

Obama and Laura Bush were serving then as honorary co-chairwomen of the National Parks Centennial Celebration. Obama did not reply to the request, Thompsen said.

But by around the same time, Seashore maintenance head Karst Hoogeboom and his staff were investigating ways to repair the half-mile trail without the $1.6 million government contract price tag.

By early 2017, an in-house Seashore crew began repairs to a 150-foot section of the boardwalk, most of which had been closed for about five years due to rotted, unsafe boards. The crew on Cape Cod had consulted with workers at Fire Island National Seashore in New York, who also maintain boardwalks, to learn how to do the repairs themselves and ongoing maintenance.

The repair materials for the boardwalk are a high-density polyethylene plastic.

By the summer of 2017 and with the in-house method, the Seashore repaired the 1,300 feet of closed trail for a total cost of $571,000, and the trail opened.

“I did not realize until a couple of years ago how much that trail is loved for so many people,” said Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore President Patricia Ryder.

The Friends group contributed money toward the repairs.

After a storm in late 2017, though, one trail spur that leads to a round seating and viewing area was again closed, said Thompsen, who regularly walks the trail. Last week, she had heard power saws in that area.

“This week, oh my God, it was open,” Thompsen said.

Follow Mary Ann Bragg on Twitter: @maryannbraggCCT.

For article photos: https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20181205/walking-boardwalk-in-eastham