Putting a bridge over the wilderness crossings on the Timberline Trail has been an issue for several reasons:
1) It's a wilderness area and USFS tends to shy away from putting up structures of any kind, favoring to tear them down or let the elements due so for them. For example, the Boy Scout shelter at Cedar Swamp Camp on Herman Creek and the shelter at Maidu Lake in Thielsen Wilderness. Some have been grandfathered, that is until an avalanche (Elk Cove), lightening (Lamberson Butte) or tree fall (Paradise Park) take out the old shelters (only Cooper Spur, Cairn Basin & McNeil Pt remain of the CCC-era stone shelters on Hood).
2) It's a wilderness area and MHNF has been trying to limit the number of visitors since it failed to set limits in the late 1990s. Look for limits coming to you in Jeff/Wash/3S wildernesses in 2020 and CR Gorge in about 5 years.
3) Lawsuits blaming the USFS for not taking out a bridge when a lahar or flood is about to hit, even though the victim was taking pictures of the approaching water at the time. Saw a similar incident from a trio of kids in Arizona trying to outrun a flood while standing in the ford.
4) Probably the one that most addresses the Eliot crossing question - in the last 20 years there have been a lot of lahars on Mt. Hood. Highway 35 has even had to be reconstructed due to these releases of water and rock. There was once a camping area on the Newton Creek crossing but the sites and trees were all washed away one year. The Eliot crossing used to be a no-brainer, but one year a lahar gouged it deep (I haven't crossed it since). Why build a bridge over a crossing when it may not be there next year (the bridge or the crossing).
5) Money is an issue. You spend it where it makes the most sense. Politics and environment put the Eliot crossing down at priority #466 (safely out of the available money). I think USFS should think about adding trails instead of limiting hikers who will only go to lesser trails to get their fix instead of retreating home with their hiking poles between their legs.
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