Tools R Us

Jimmy Doolittle did not fly over Tokyo in 1942 by himself, without an airplane. None of us can do any work on trails without using tools, either. Tools are the critical point of failure for us. We need them and must have them. And, we must know how to use and care for them.

Trail Tools

Each year, PATC spends hundreds of dollars to purchase tools to replace those that overseers fail to return. Some are never returned to the PATC. If you keep tools at home, you deny other overseers the use of these tools at a time when they may be critically needed. The funds expended to replace tools must be diverted from other trails projects.

Tools may be borrowed or purchased. Available equipment includes saws, weeders, loppers, fire rakes, shovels, mattocks and blazing equipment. You should buy some basic tools, including a:

  • Scythe (weed whip)
  • Folding hand saw
  • Loppers
  • Clippers

Some tools may be purchased at Headquarters.

If you use PATC tools, return them to their original location at the end of your trip.

Please clean all tools before you return them. The overseer will really appreciate it.

HQ Tool Room

The Tool Room at PATC headquarters in Vienna has a large quantity of tools available for overseers. Tools must be signed out and returned to the Tool Room following each work trip.
To access the Tool Room, check out the key from the Sales Desk agent during Customer Service business hours (check the PATC Web site for the schedule). You must:

  • Sign out the tools you take in the log book on the tool bench
  • Return the key to the Sales Desk agent when you are finished

The Tool Room is at the back of the PATC HQ building. There are only two entrances at the back of the building.

You need to rotate the key a number of revolutions in the lock before the deadbolt will disengage, then, maintaining pressure on the key to keep the second lock in the door knob disengaged, open the door. This is usually a two-handed operation.

If you intend to use the Tool Room regularly, call the Trails Coordinator at (703) 242-0693 ext. 107 to check out a key. You must come in to sign out the key and return it when you no longer need it.

Tool Caches

Many overseers prefer to access the tool caches that are farther afield. Tool caches are available at the following locations.

Shenandoah National Park

Entrance Stations

Toolboxes are located at each Entrance Station and are locked. Return tools to the same toolbox before you leave the Park.

  • Front Royal (US Route 340)
  • Thornton Gap (US Route 211)
  • Swift Run Gap (US Route 33)
  • Rockfish Gap (US Route 250)

Piney River

Located on the back porch of the Piney River Ranger Station.

Pinnacles Research Center

The tool cache is in a locked metal box located behind the Research Center dormitory building.

Big Meadows

The PATC tool cache at Big Meadows is located in the Maintenance Area behind the Big Meadows Wayside/Byrd Visitors Center compound. Travel south from Thornton Gap to SDMP 51.4 in Big Meadows.

Simmons Gap

Rockfish Gap

The PATC provides tools in two steel boxes located approximately 0.2 mile past the new Rockfish Gap Entrance Station—park in the pull-over area on the western side of Skyline Drive opposite the island in the Drive and walk down to the boxes.


Gambrill State Park, Frederick

Get the combination from your District Manager.

Only the hand tools are PATC property.

Washington Monument Road, Boonsboro

You need a key to access this cache. Call your District Manager to borrow the key. The cache is the building 150 feet beyond the intersection and just left of the entrance road. It is 5 feet square, brick, and painted light yellow.

Great North Mountain

Wolf Gap Recreation Area

A small tool cache is located in the janitor's closet at the Wolf Gap Recreation Area. For access, contact your District Manager.

Massanutten Mountain, North

Elizabeth Furnace, George Washington National Forest

A tool cache for overseers who work in the Massanutten region is located in the Elizabeth Furnace Campground complex. The tools are locked inside and may be accessed by opening the lock with a combination provided by your District Manager.

Massanutten Mountain, South

Massanutten Visitors Center

The tools are maintained in a separate closet in the station utility room at the rear of the USDA Forest Service Ranger Station on US Route 211 atop New Market Gap between Luray and New Market, VA. A key to the utility room must be procured from the on-duty ranger—normally between 9 A.M. and 4 P.M.—or from your District Manager.


Michaux State Forest Headquarters

At the headquarters complex, go past the office to the first building on the right. The toolbox is at the back of this building on the porch. The cache is locked and can only be accessed with a key provided by the Ranger or by the District Manager.

Washington, D.C.

Rock Creek Park Nature Center

Tools are kept at the Park Service Maintenance Yard. Contact Ranger Ken Ferebee (202.426.6834 ext. 31) for access.