The Clarendon Gorge Bridge, also called the “Bob Brugmann Memorial Bridge” or simply the “swinging bridge” was built in the summer of 1975. It replaced an earlier bridge that had been built in 1957 and spanned the gorge at the same spot. (That bridge, also a cable-suspension type bridge, replaced a covered bridge which was built circa 1906.)
On June 30, 1973, heavy rains had raised the level of the Mill River and washed the 1958 bridge away. On July 4, more rains again brought the river to near flood stage. Late that day, Bob Brugmann, a 17-year-old hiker from Flemington, New Jersey, who was spending his summer hiking the Appalachian/Long Trail, attempted to use a downed tree to cross the still-raging torrent below. Brugmann lost his footing and was swept away, his body found four days later two miles downstream.
The Clarendon Gorge Bridge is approximately 70 feet long and hangs about 30 feet over the riverbed. It services the Long Trail (which runs through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada) and the Appalachian Trail, which share the same footpath in the southern section of Vermont. It was built by the Green Mountain Club with donations and volunteers. The views of the Clarendon Gorge from the bridge can vary depending on the water level of the Mill River below, but the bridge itself is always an exciting treat due to its wobbly nature.
Know Before You Go
Although the bridge itself is lined with fencing to prevent falls, the cliffs on either side have no protections. Extreme caution is urged and it is not recommended that anyone get too close to the rocks at either end of the bridge. The Mill River can be accessed by proceeding south from the bridge to where a series of paths lead down to river level. The AT/LT veers immediately right up a steep slope from the south end of the bridge.
Getting there: From the intersection of US-7 and VT Route 103 south of Rutland, VT, proceed south 2-1/4 miles on Route 103 to the Appalachian/Long Trail parking area on the right. From the parking area, the Clarendon Gorge Bridge is about 150 yards south on the trail on a narrow path.