Construction and Design


Hawks Rest Pack Stock Bridge Installation

The ‘Hawks Rest Saddle/Pack Stock and Hiker Bridge Installation’ project is located within the Teton Wilderness on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, approximately 79 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming. This bridge crosses the Yellowstone River and is located approximately 28 miles from the nearest trailhead or road. It provides the primary access for equestrian saddle/pack stock users and backcountry hikers to over 200,000 acres of extremely remote backcountry in the Teton Wilderness, as well as to vast amounts of remote backcountry in the neighboring areas of Yellowstone National Park and the Washakie Wilderness on the Shoshone National Forest.

The original 158-feet long Hawks Rest Pack Bridge was constructed in 1959 – before the Wilderness Act created the Teton Wilderness in 1964 – and was found by a 2016 inspection to be in a potentially catastrophic condition and in critical need of replacement due to deteriorated concrete piers along with damaged decking, running boards, railings and approaches. Since it was located in Wilderness, there were limited options for repair or replacement since motorized vehicles and mechanized tools are prohibited at its location. After a couple years of analyzing this situation, the Forest Service decided to replace the existing multi-span steel I-beam bridge with a single-span bridge in the same location. Their plan approved removing and replacing the old bridge using traditional tools and pack stock, along with using a helicopter to remove the old bridge and concrete piers and to bring in new prefabricated bridge sections and concrete abutments.

This unique and complicated project involved multiple partnerships, with all combined contracts and USFS force account work totaling over $1 million. The overall project took several years to accomplish, with initial NEPA work, planning and grant seeking beginning in 2016. This was followed by the purchase of a pre-fab replacement bridge in 2018, and then a major contract for new bridge mobilization and installation along with old bridge removal being funded in 2020 and completed in 2021. Bridge placement was followed by two additional summers of Forest Service crews finishing the new bridge approaches to a more sustainable and aesthetic level. Project funding came from a variety of partners that included over $454,000 in appropriated U.S. Forest Service funds for the construction contract, $257,000 from non- Federal outfitter and guides’ special use permit fees for the bridge purchase and for the RTP grant’s non- federal match, and a $150,000 RTP grant from the State of Wyoming toward the bridge’s installation contract.

Public-Private Partnerships and Access to/Use of Public Lands: this project required significant financial support from local guides and outfitters through their special use permit fees. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows Forest Service units to retain revenue from outfitter guide special use permit fees, which can then be used to help manage and improve areas and facilities where they operate. A significant number of guides and outfitters have a long history of operating in this area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and were extremely supportive of this project since they depend upon this trail system for their summer-season pack trips, as well as for access to extensive hunting camp networks in the famous Thorofare region during the fall hunting season. Without this project, access to this region of the Teton Wilderness and beyond would have become far less accessible and much more treacherous to travel on horseback and with pack animals.

Engaging Public-Sector Partners: Typically, the Wyoming State Trails Program and the Wyoming Trails Advisory Council limits individual Non-motorized category RTP projects to a maximum of $50,000 per project. However, in recognition of the uniqueness and high priority need for this project, the State Trails Program and the Trails Advisory Council made a special exception and granted this project $150,000 – three times the normal maximum grant amount. Additionally, Wyoming’s Congressional delegation at the time was highly supportive of this project and worked behind the scenes to ensure it received appropriate priority and funding through the Forest Service.

Enhancement of Public Lands: This project was clearly of supreme importance in maintaining and enhancing public uses and enjoyment of this region of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Teton Wilderness. Without replacement of the Hawks Rest Stock Bridge, over on-third of the entire Teton Wilderness would have become much less accessible to saddle and pack stock users.

More winners of this award

2023: Cacapon State Park Foundation Mountain Bike Trail Program

2021: Vermilion Falls Trail

2021: Climax Tunnel Rehabilitation

2020: Blue Ridge Tunnel Rehabilitation & Trail Project

2020: Milan Trail Huggers Nash Stream Bridge

2019: Weed Patch Mountain Trail

2018: Ouachita National Recreation Trail Shelters - Arkansas and Oklahoma

2017: Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area - Pennsylvania

2016: Kanab Creek OHV Bridge - Utah

2015: Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point Trail Project - Colorado

2015: Joanna Trail Project - Missouri

2014: Abbott Motocross Park - Nebraska

2014: Millersburg Historic Park and Trailhead - Michigan

2013: East and West Twin Creek Bridges - Michigan

2012: Chattahoochee Nature Trails - Florida

2012: Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway - Nevada

2011: Iron Range OHV Recreation Area - Minnesota

2010: Agassiz Recreational Trail - Minnesota

2009: Sam Houston Multiple-Use Trail - Texas

2008: Wanoga Snopark Shelter - Oregon

2007: Potato Knob Trail at Holly River State Park - West Virginia

2006: Indian Canyon Trailhead - California

2006: Upper Waiakea ATV/Dirt Bike Park - Hawaii

2006: County Line Acres Bikeway - Ohio

2005: River Bluff Trail Project - Indiana

2005: Red Creek Bridge - Michigan

2005: MKT Trailhead Project - Missouri

2004: Diana Bend Conservation Area Trail Project - Missouri

2004: Sweetser Switch Trail Project - Indiana

2003: Jane Addams Trail - Illinois

2003: Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Area - West Virginia

2003: Ten Mile Snopark Facilities - Oregon