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North Fork Smith River Trail reopens after bridge replacement

The North Fork Smith River Trail has reopened after two bridges were replaced and a section of trail reconstructed, Nov. 30, 2017. (National Forest Service photo)

REEDSPORT, Ore. -- The North Fork Smith River Trail has reopened after two bridges were replaced and a section of trail reconstructed, National Forest Service said.

The trail was closed in 2012 after winter storms knocked out two wooden bridges that crossed the river.

The new bridges have been designed to better withstand high water events and last well into the future, officials said.

The original bridges were constructed of wood and had a lifespan of 15 to 25 years. The new bridges, which were recently flown in by helicopter, are constructed of steel I-beams and have a life span of 50 to 80 years.

They were installed on taller supports than the original bridges in order to better withstand higher water flows.

A new 1,500 foot section of trail was also constructed to connect to the bridges, which were placed in slightly different locations than the originals.

That construction was made possible in part by a Northwest Youth Corps trail crew, which joined Forest Service staff on the project last summer.

“We’re thrilled to have the new bridges installed,” said Michele Jones, Central Coast district ranger. “With this reopening, visitors can again enjoy this lovely year-round hike that winds through stands of old growth forest along the Smith River.”

The North Fork Smith River Trail is 6.5 miles one-way with an elevation that ranges from 380 to 900 feet. The trail can be accessed from Forest Service Road 23 outside Reedsport, or via the Kentucky Falls Trail to the north.

Officials say it’s always a good idea to check road and trail conditions before leaving home.

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