Henry David Thoreau Footbridge
The Henry David Thoreau Footbridge, named in tribute to an original American environmentalist, is a cable-stayed, mass timber suspension bridge across the Shepaug River in Northwestern Connecticut. This new bridge provides disabled visitors access to the preserve’s previously inaccessible trail systems along the river’s northern bank. The structure exploits the structural economy of glue-lamination and the durability of large treated timbers joined monolithically to avoid the moment connections and vulnerability of timber lattice structures. The bridge deck spans 134 feet, rising clear of the 500 year flood level and then sweeps 90 degrees as it gently ramps down to the north bank Quotes from Thoreau’s seminal work, Walden, inscribed by water jet into a bench at the cliff base and along the bridge’s steel handrails, offer moments for reflection. Opened in September 2015 and already in heavy use, the bridge provides an identifying landmark and a comfortable conduit to those—disabled and able-bodied alike—seeking the natural beauty of Steep Rock’s Hidden Valley.