By Becky Ewing
Editor’s Note: All photos are courtesy of the Eastern Region’s Trails Strike Team.
Repairs are continuing on Mark Twain National Forest facilities, roads and trails damaged by the 2015 and 2017 floods.
One section of the Turkey Creek Trail was improved in May, thanks to the efforts of the Forest Service’s Eastern Region Trails Strike Team. Additional work is in the planning stages.
Turkey Creek Trail is located in Silver Mines Recreation Area, in Madison County, Mo. This hiking-only trail, a little over two miles in length, starts at the day-use parking area across from the Riverside camping loop and connects to the hiking trail in Missouri Department of Conservation’s Millstream Gardens.
Turkey Creek Trail travels along the St. Francis River and can also be accessed from the Turkey Creek Picnic Area.
During the floods, runoff from the heavy rainfall, as well as the St. Francis River water levels, damaged two sections of the trail and the footbridge across Turkey Creek.
The Eastern Region Trails Strike Team spent 10 days at Mark Twain National Forest in May, and repaired and improved a section of Turkey Creek Trail, near the old stone dam across the St. Francis River.
This section of trail was severely impacted by the prolonged and heavy rainfall during the 2017 flood.
The Trails Strike Team included six Forest Service employees from the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, along with two interns from the Greening Youth Foundation and VetsWork.
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The Trails Strike Team is well-versed in technical trail construction techniques and brings a wealth of experience from their work in the mountains of New England.
To repair flood damage on Turkey Creek Trail, the crew utilized natural materials located on-site. They installed a three-step staircase, eight rock check steps, two rock waterbars, three knicks/drainage dips, one step stone, four guide rocks, and two large guide rocks at a switchback.
In addition, they built a 17-foot by 2-foot multi-tier rock retaining wall to replace a compromised wood structure. The team accomplished all of this work with hand tools, griphoists, and muscle.
The Forest Service plans to address flood impacts along two other sections of Turkey Creek Trail. Near the picnic area, the footbridge over Turkey Creek was damaged by the floods and a new prefabricated steel bridge is being designed by Forest Service Technical Service Team engineers.
A one-half mile section of trail between the Turkey Creek Picnic Area and Millstream Gardens needs to be re-routed away from the edge of the St. Francis River where scouring occurred in 2017. Planning work should be completed this summer.
Campers at Silver Mines Recreation Area find Turkey Creek Trail a great place to view the picturesque St. Francis River. The trail is heavily used in March when the annual Whitewater Championships are held along the stretch of river between Silver Mines and Millstream Gardens.
Sturdy footwear is recommended because of the rocky nature of the trail.
(Becky Ewing is the district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.)