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Bethlehem, New Hampshire, United States

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24 November 2017

Windstorm Devastation on Martha’s Mile Trail (New Hampshire)


Wind-gusts of over 70 mph, combined with a heavy rainfall, caused a lot of damage throughout Northern New England at the end of October 2017 during what has been dubbed as the Halloween Storm.

The strong winds were simply too much for many trees to handle, and unfortunately the huge number of downed trees caused a lot of damage to hiking trails, roadways, homes, etc.  The damage to the power grid caused the fourth-largest power outage in New Hampshire history, leaving an estimated 450,000 without electricity at one point during the storm.

One of my adopted trails (Martha’s Mile) was among those trails that were particularly hard hit by this storm.  For over a decade, I’ve been able to remove downed trees and handle other maintenance responsibilities for this trail without any need for outside help.  However, this time was quite different!  The staggering number of huge trees that had fallen on Martha’s Mile was clearly more than I could handle with simple hand tools.  And so, I sent a request to the Forest Service to send a chainsaw crew to clear the trail.

Considering the enormous amount of work the Forest Service had to do in the aftermath of the Halloween Storm, I had no idea when a crew might be available to work on my trail.  I thought it might even be the Spring of 2018 before this work could be done.  However, I was delighted and thankful that a crew was dispatched about 3-weeks after submitting my request!  With a lot of time and effort, they were able to completely clear all the downed trees from the trail corridor.

Shown below are a few “before and after” photos that I took of the situation along Martha’s Mile.


Before the clean-up:

Two days after the Halloween Storm, I hiked up to Martha’s Mile to assess the storm damage.  I was appalled by what I found!  Shown below are just three of the many photos I took.

After the clean-up:

About 3-weeks after the storm, I once again hiked up to Martha’s Mile.  This time I wanted to get a firsthand look at the magnificent work the Forest Service had done to clear the trail of all the downed trees.  Shown below are just three of the many photos I took during that trip.

For those who might be unfamiliar with the location of Martha’s Mile, it is situated along the ridgeline of Cherry Mountain (near Jefferson, NH), and it connects two peaks on that mountain.  One peak is named Mt. Martha, and the other is named Owl’s Head.  Shown below is a map.


One of the many things I had to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving Season was the remarkable work done by the Forest Service in clearing all the downed trees from the Martha’s Mile trail.   My sincere “thank you” goes out to the crew of the Pemigewasset Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service.