How to Volunteer on The Triple Crown Trails This Summer
National Trails Day is right around the corner and you should be making your plans to ensure you’re on a trail in some way, shape, or form on June 1st. But if you’re looking to up the ante this year, there’s no better way to spend the hiker holiday than spiffing up our beloved trails and making sure they’ll be around for all the National Trails Days to come.
Each of the three Triple Crown Trails host a number of volunteer events each year, so consider spending June 1st at one of them or committing to one in the future. For your convenience, we’ve curated a list of volunteer events throughout the summer, although there’s far too many for us to name here and you can and should check out the volunteer pages on the sites of each of the three trails: The Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. If you plan on spending any time on one of these three trails this summer, consider spending some time contributing to their future as well.
Celebrate National Trails Day at Max Patch
Saturday June 1st. 8:15am-3:00pm
This is a family friendly one day event for volunteers of all skill levels. After meeting at the Ashvelle Home Depot at 8:15, volunteers will carpool to the event and be assigned groups matched with an instructor. At 1:30, the carpools will return and you have the option to meet at Sierra Nevada Brewing afterwards to celebrate a job well done. Click link for more details and sign up info.
Remove the Dam Invasive Plants:
Saturday July 6th. 9am-4pm
Work to protect native species in the Fontana Dam area of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. The Fontana Village Resort is offering discount rooms and tent sites for those signed up to volunteer. Click the link for more details and sign up info.
Saturday June 15th, 8am-4pm
A.T. Veteran Affinity Group is working with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club on this project. Volunteers will meet in Spring Run, PA and will work on maintenance along the Tuscarora Trail, a 250 mile blue blazed AT side trail. No experience is necessary. Click link for more details and sign up info.
Wild East Women – Trail Blazers
Saturday July 20th at 9:30am
Wild East Women hosts multiple work days throughout the year. This event will meet at Native Landscaping in Pawling, NY and hike to Pawling Nature Preserve. Click link for more details and sign up info.
Trail Relocation in CT
Saturday June 1st. 9am-3pm
Alternatively, spend National Trails Day working on the relocation of the Appalachian Trail in Sharon Mountain. This event requires no experience. Click the link for more details and sign up info.
Noepel Shelter Tune Up
Tuesday, June 4th. 9am-4pm
Spruce up Noepel Shelter near Cheshire, MA with the Massachusetts A.T. Committee of the AMC Berkshire Chapter. A two mile hike in a challenging section of the AT in Massachusetts is required to reach the shelter. Click the link for more details and sign up info.
Rare Plant Monitoring Near Mt Greylock
Tuesday June 11th and/or Wednesday June 12th at 9am
Survey endangered species with the A.T. Committee of the AMC Berkshire Chapter. Click the link for more details and sign up info.
Build a Privy
Saturday, July 13th to Sunday, July 14th
As a former AT thru-hiker, I can attest to the joy thru-hikers experience when coming across a freshly built privy. Be the cause of this joy by joining the Brattleboro Section of the Green Mountain Club to replace the privy at the William B. Douglas Shelter. Volunteers will camp at the shelter overnight and are expected to bring their own camping supplies. Click the link for more details and sign up info.
While these events are all one time, one off volunteer opportunities, the best way to find volunteer events in your neck of the Appalachian Trail is to find your local trail club. Many host volunteer opportunities throughout the year, from weekly work hikes to week long work trips. Here’s a list of those that host volunteer events by region.
The Konnarock Trail Crew covers quite a bit of ground on the AT. They have weekly, week long volunteer trips throughout the summer in a range of trail locations from Georgia to Virginia.
The NHC maintains 58.6 miles of the AT from Bly Gap to the Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Nantahala River at Wesser, NC. They host weekly work hikes on Wednesdays.
The Smokies Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail Crew hosts some of the most difficult trail work for those that enjoy a challenge in all things they do. They host weekly, week long work trips throughout the summer. The crew backpacks 6 to 11 miles into the Smokies, carrying packs that can weigh 55 to 65 pounds and as such, this crew is recommended for experienced backpackers.
The Natural Bridge Appalachian Club is responsible for 90 miles of trail in Central Virginia from Blackhorse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Tye River in Nelson County. They host weekly work days on Wednesdays.
The Rocky Top Trail Crew maintains 70 miles of the AT in the Smokies. They host weekly work weeks in the fall. The crew backpacks 6 miles, carrying packs that can weigh 40 to 55 pounds.
The Cumberland Valley A.T. Club monitors the 17 miles of the AT that pass through Cumberland Valley. There are 34 miles of boundary and 468 boundary survey markers that need to be monitored throughout the hiking season. The Cumberland Valley A.T. Club hosts weekly monitoring hikes on Fridays.
The Blue Eagle Climbing Club maintains 65 miles of the AT between Pennsylvania’s Lehigh and Susquehanna Rivers. They host work days throughout the summer.
The Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew maintains the trail from Rockfish Gap in Virginia to the New York–Connecticut state line. They host weekly work weeks starting in the fall.
For a full list of Appalachian Trail clubs and to find the one in your area, click here.
Pacific Crest Trail
Like the Appalachian Trail, most of the trail maintenance on the Pacific Crest Trail is done by volunteer clubs that take responsibility for sections of trail. Also similar to the AT, you can choose to volunteer for a day or sign up for a much longer work trip.
Spitler Trail Trees
Saturday June 8th
The Trail Gorillas: Paradise Chapter are hosting this event in San Bernardino National Forest. The project involves removing 15 trees and a 5 mile hike to reach them, so volunteers should be able to comfortably hike 10 miles. No other experience is necessary. Click the link for more details and sign up info
Saturday September 7th
Join the Southern Oregon Rockers by Mt. Ashland for some end of season trail work. No experience and a moderate fitness level is needed. Click link for more details and sign up info.
South Diamond Peak Log Out
Friday July 12th to Sunday July 14th
Join the Mid-Oregon Volunteers to log out trail in Deschutes National Forest. No experience and a moderate fitness level is needed. Click link for more details and sign up info.
Jeff Park Relocation
Thursday August 8th to Thursday August 15th
Skyline Volunteer Vacation – Jeff Park 2
Friday August 16th to Thursday August 22nd
These two week long projects, both hosted by the PCTA, will replace a badly eroded section of trail in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. While no trail maintenance experience is needed, the project is considered strenuous and is recommended for those in excellent physical condition.
Goat Rocks North Logout
Thursday July 18th to Sunday July 21st
Join the White Pass Chapter in the famed Goat Rocks Wilderness. While no trail maintenance experience is needed, the project is considered strenuous and as such, previous backpacking experience is required. Click link for more details and sign up info.
BearPaw – Tacoma Pass Regrade
Friday August 2nd to Sunday August 4th
Join the North 350 Blades to continue work on this multi-year project. No previous trail maintenance experience and a moderate fitness level is necessary. Click link for more details and sign up info.
For a full list of Pacific Crest Trail Volunteer groups and to find the one in your area, click here.
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide Trail may be the least populated and most remote of the triple crown trails, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s own groups of dedicated volunteers. All but one of the volunteer outings hosted on the CDT this year are currently full, which is bad news that’s really good news. However, the last project would be happy to have you.
Henderson Mine – Colorado Native Brew Crew Project
Friday July 26th to Sunday July 28th
CDTC is partnering with AC Golden Brewery’s Colorado Native Brew Crew to repair damage on the CDT east and west of the Stanley Spur Junction near Jones Pass and Henderson Mine. This project is at 10,000 to 11,000 feet elevation, so participants should be able to feel comfortable hiking and working at high altitudes. You also need to be a Colorado Native Brew Crew member, which you can sign up to be for free online. Click link for more details and sign up info.
You can also give back to the CDT as a volunteer photographer to take professional level photographs of their volunteer projects throughout the year. Photographers must be able to provide their own camping and camera gear. Click the link and scroll down for more details and information on how to be considered.
CDTC Adopter Program
If the last open project doesn’t work for you and you’ve got questionable photography skills, but you live near a section of the CDT and would like to step up big, there’s still volunteer opportunities for you. The CDTC has an Adopt a Trail program in which trail neighbors can take responsibility for the monitoring and maintenance of a section of trail. While it is more of a commitment than a day or week of volunteering, it’s a fantastic opportunity if you’d like to contribute as a work place, cycling or running club, or as a group of friends. You’ll also earn some serious trail karma. There are some requirements, including a one day training class, of which multiple are held at different locations and dates throughout the year. For a full list of those requirements, training dates and more info about the program itself, click here.
The CDTC also partners with a number of volunteer organizations who do trail work on the CDT and its surrounding areas. Those organizations have their own volunteer projects throughout the year. Here’s a full list broken down by state.
These guys host a ton of projects throughout the summer, ranging from one day events to weekend trips. Skill level required and difficulty vary by project.
These guys are the caretakers of the Colorado Trail and they host a range of projects from one day events to eight day trips. This crew works at high altitudes and recommends its participants be in good physical shape.
They host a HUGE number of projects throughout the summer and you’d be hard-pressed not to find one that didn’t work for you. They currently only have projects listed on their site to the end of June; July and August projects will go on their site on June 1st.
They host a range of three to six day trips of varying difficulty. Quite a few are full, but there’s still some opportunities for quick clickers.
Volunteer projects ranging from one to eight days in Bob Marshall Wilderness. They rank both the difficulty of the hike in and the difficulty of the work itself to help you find a project suited to your ability (or desired challenge level).
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