By the VDGIF
A new 35-foot span bridge across Cedar Run offers hikers and nature-loving community members improved access to the popular White Oak Canyon trailhead outside of Shenandoah National Park and opening up three miles of stream habitat to native fish for the first time in decades. The effort is a public-private partnership between Shenandoah National Park, The Piedmont Environmental Council, Trout Unlimited, and the local landowners, the Graves family.
White Oak Canyon Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park, with spectacular waterfalls.
within a two-hour drive of Washington, D.C., The newly installed bridge from this $110,000 project replaces an undersized concrete crossing that impeded fish movement and frequently became clogged with woody material and river cobble during high flows requiring frequent maintenance. Acting much like a dam when clogged, the old structure rerouted water, causing erosion of stream banks and the structure itself and flooding surrounding areas. As a result of two extreme rainfalls in 2018, it had deteriorated to the point of being unsafe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
By allowing water to flow freely beneath it, the new bridge opens three miles of stream habitat to native brook trout, American eel and other native species, increases flood resilience and reduces erosion of the surrounding areas. It also provides a stable and accessible road to the upper parking area for the White Oak Canyon trail system, better emergency vehicle access and will allow for the installation of interpretive signage.
This project is part of a regional initiative led by The Piedmont Environmental Council, Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Rappahannock and other partners to reconnect stream habitat for brook trout and improve water quality for other at-risk aquatic species. To date, five restoration projects on private lands adjacent to Shenandoah National Park have been completed as part of this initiative.