At 3.9-million acres, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests (HTNF) is the second largest national forest in the U.S. and located in Nevada and a small portion of eastern California. Cathedral Rock, just 40 miles west of Las Vegas,NV, is a popular hiking spot. The 1.5-mile hike to the top of Cathedral Rock amid ponderosa pines, white firs, shrub sand grasses, and spring wildflowers and waterfalls, rewards with spectacular views overlooking Kyle Canyon. The trail from the picnic area follows an old road up an avalanche chute behind the summit.
The Cathedral Rock Picnic Area is a starting point for the trail head and located at the top of Kyle Canyon at the end of SR 157 above the town of Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains, a flora-rich forest oasis in the desert. The Cathedral Rock Picnic Area and adjacent Lower Cathedral Rock Trailhead entrance are the most heavily visited picnic site and trail head in the Spring Mountains in the HTNF. The picnic site originally was constructed as a campground in 1930, and then reconstructed as a picnic site in 1968. A reconstruction of the site was planned to add more parking and picnic tables, and bring the site and facilities up to Forest Service current condition and accessibility standards.
A pedestrian bridge was needed to cross a small ravine and extend the trail; however, the USDA Forest Service required minimal cutting, clearing or construction equipment to avoid disturbing the established forest. This presented a highly unique challenge since the location was on a canyon at the base of a rock in the heart of a dense forest area, making access difficult. After it was determined that it was not practical to utilize a land-based crane to install the structure, a helicopter set was deemed to be the most effective solution. The site constraints would have made a site-built alternative more costly and have a greater negative impact on the surrounding landscape.
A 5’ x 60’ Continental® Connector® style clear span truss bridge from Contech Engineered Solutions was selected for the new pedestrian crossing. It’s weathered steel finish blended in to the natural surroundings while allowing safe passage over the ravine for foot traffic from the many hikers and visitors to the Cathedral Rock Picnic area.
The helicopter burns 500 gallons of jet fuel per hour whether it’s under load or idling. From the time the chopper lifted the truss structure off the trailer, they had20 minutes to fly it the three miles up the mountain, offload the bridge into place, abandon the set and then fly back to the staging area to refuel. The pilots successfully set the Continental truss in less than 10 minutes.