Many people who volunteer to maintain a trail are individualists in the classic sense of the word.
They enjoy physical work, the ability to be out and away from the madding crowd, and the opportunity to be “out there” to enjoy the backcountry.
Occasionally, there may be times when there is work on your trail that you can’t handle. Maybe:
- A huge tree fell across the trail and you can't tackle it yourself.
- Your trail has been badly damaged by an ice storm—dozens of trees and limbs are down across the trail.
Situations may arise that you feel compromise your personal safety by trying to tackle them, or the work required demands many more trips to repair damage than you can accommodate. When you need help, you can:
- Contact your District Manager and seek help
- Contact a trail crew leader to schedule the crew to help
- Organize a group worktrip and advertise for help
Trail Crew Support
PATC sponsors a number of trail crews. Most of the crews work in a specific regional trail district, but the Cadillac Crew is a “roaming” crew that tackles large trail tasks, such as building new tread, and major trail rehabilitation projects.
District Trail Crews
These crews work exclusively in the trail district indicated:
The Yankee Clippers trail crew supports the maintenance of over 180 miles of trails in PATC’s Pennsylvania district, such as in the Michaux State Forest. With so much territory to cover, there is always a backlog of activity for the crew to work on. The Yankee Clippers usually schedule two trail work sessions per month.
The South Mountaineers trail crew has been performing its good work on the Appalachian and Catoctin Trails in Maryland since 1993. The crew has a natural joy of the woods and you are welcome to join them!
Rock Creek Filibusters
The Rock Creek Filibusters work on PATC trails in Rock Creek Park. The crew schedules monthly work trips during the year, usually from April to October.
Thursday Morning Group
The Thursday Morning Group is composed primarily of individuals who are able and willing (eager) to work on the Potomac Heritage Trail and in Turkey Run Park along the George Washington Parkway on weekdays.
Wolf Trap Trail Performers
The Wolf Trap Trail Performers were formed in July 2011 to construct a hiking trail around Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA.
The Manassas BullRunners trail crew operates in the greater Manassas area.
The Roaring Tuskers support the Tuscarora Trail Central District Manager on a variety of projects focused on making the Tuscarora Trail a part of the Great Eastern Trail initiative.
The Spooky Beavers trail crew works on trails projects in Prince William Forest Park near Quantico, VA.
The North District Hoodlums crew works in the North District of Shenandoah National Park. We're a hard-working, fun-loving, bunch of folks who share the desire to keep the Appalachian Trail and side trails in the North District of the Park in excellent condition for the hiking community.
The Brokenback Crew works in the northern part of the Central District of Shenandoah National Park, concentrating in the Old Rag/Hazel Country area.
The Stonewall Brigade performs trail maintenance and improvements in the Great North Mountain area of the Lee Ranger District of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.
The Cadillac Crew specializes in the construction and reconstruction of public hiking trails. This work is different from trail maintenance and often requires a group of people to accomplish it, as opposed to that of maintenance, which is most often accomplished by individuals. This crew works in any district where they are needed and invited.
Getting Others to Work with You
You can bring the full resources of the Club to bear on your trail section by simply planning a work trip to your trail. Leading a trip requires advance planning. If heavy work is needed on your trail, you can find volunteers ready to help and work with you.
Publicize Your Trip
The Forecast section of the Potomac Appalachian and the Calendar on the Club Web site are your greatest resources for recruiting people to help you on your trail.
The deadline for the Forecast is always the last day of the month—no exceptions.
You must first register a user account with the PATC Web site before you can submit items to the online Calendar. To do this, go to the Club Website and Log On:
- Click the Calendar link.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page to the Event Form.
- Enter a Title for your item.
- Select the appropriate Category from the drop-down list (Trail Work).
- Enter the Start Date for your item.
- Select the appropriate Start Time from the drop-down list.
- Enter your name in the Contact field.
- Enter your e-mail address in the Contact Email field.
- Enter the URL, if appropriate, of the relevant Website.
- Briefly describe your event item in the text editor. You can use the editor icons to make text bold, italic, or underlined. You can also change the text justification (left-justified, right-justified, or left-right justified) and you can add a hyperlink (say, to a MeetUp group registration page).
- Click Submit when you are finished.
- Click Log Off in the top banner when you are finished.
The IT Committee or the Webmaster reviews all events before publishing them. Expect at least a 24-hour delay before your item appears online.
Trail work brings people together and brings out the best in everyone. You’ll be genuinely pleased at the results! Frequently, those who come out with you once will be ready to help you again on other worktrips.
Have fun, and others will have fun, too.
Before the Trip
- Be well-prepared; be sure your project is well-planned and that you have the tools and expertise you need for the job.
- Remind volunteers who respond to your ad what the project is and what it involves.
- Bring extra water and gloves at the trailhead for those who forget them.
- Tell people what to bring—personal first aid kit, plenty of water, work gloves, work boot, work boots, sunscreen, insect repellent, rain wear.
- Pick a central location to meet.
- Help setup carpooling if possible.
Take the time at the trailhead to have a “tailgate meeting.”
- Welcome the participants.
- Have them sign in.
- Introduce yourself (and your assistant, if you have one).
- Pay particular attention to new or inexperienced volunteers.
- Explain what you will do, and why.
- Include a safety briefing describing:
- Safe transport and use of all tools
- Proper posture
- Proper hydration
- Work at own pace—no competition and no heroes
- Inventory your tools before leaving the trailhead.
Be sure you know the location of the nearest hospital or clinic and how to contact the local Emergency Responders.
At the Work Site
- When you reach the site, demonstrate the various techniques, focusing on new or inexperienced volunteers.
- Reemphasize critical safety concerns; encourage good communication within work teams.
- Discuss the standards to which the project should adhere.
- If anyone arrives late, don’t forget to have them sign in, and brief them, as above.
- Make sure the project runs well.
- With a big crew, you may spend most of your time roaming among the workers for constant quality assurance and safety monitoring.
- Be sure to praise good work and correct poor work in a positive and friendly manner.
- Be sure participants take adequate breaks, eat their lunch, and drink water.
- It’s fun when everybody eats together.
- After lunch, briefly critique the work done so far.
Inventory your tools before moving the work site.
- Be sure participants have fun, feel part of the group, and have a feeling of accomplishment.
- Thank everyone who participated.
- Submit your work report!
The first trip is always the most challenging. But after you’ve led one and seen how much work you can get done and how easy it is, you're bound to lead others.
PATC work trips bring some of the nicest people together to work on a common goal.