Why You Should Consider Volunteering on the PCT This Year

So you’re feeling philanthropic and you want to spend some time doing trail work this summer and fall. But you don’t want to help just any trail, you want to help the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail. Volunteering on the PCT is a wonderful way to give back to the trail community and way to spend time on the trail.

Here are some frequently asked questions about volunteering on the PCT from the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

What does a trail crew do?

Trail crews are a vital component in building, maintaining, and protecting the PCT. Each year these crews, along with PCTA staff, take out new and seasoned volunteers to conduct trail work. Projects are dependent on the needs of the trail in that area. Trail work may include:

  • Cutting and removing fallen trees to clear the trail corridor
  • Maintaining and constructing structures such as rock walls, steps, or bridges
  • Clearing overgrown vegetation on the trail
  • Maintaining  and improving the trail tread (tread is the area where people and stock walk on the trail)

Is working on a trail crew hard work?

Tasks will vary in their degree of intensity but it can be demanding work. Volunteers need to be prepared to hike to and from a project site while carrying tools and their personal gear. Some projects may take place at a trailhead but other frontcountry projects may require volunteers to hike up to 5 miles or more each day. Each project description lists the tasks and the fitness level required.

How do I sign up for a project?

There are three simple steps to register for a project. First, submit an online volunteer application if you have not filled one out before. Next, check out the project schedule and find a project that you would like to attend. Third, register for the project!

What is the cost to join a Pacific Crest Trail volunteer project?

It’s free! For all projects the PCTA provides tools and safety gear (including a hard hat and gloves). For overnight or extended projects, PCTA will provide food, drinking water or water filters, kitchen gear, and camping fees.

What do I need to bring?

For all projects you will need to bring a day pack, boots, and appropriate clothing. Long pants are required to do trail work and long-sleeved shirts are recommended or required in some areas. For day projects, you will also need to bring a lunch and water. For extended projects you will need to provide your own camping gear, this includes a tent, sleeping bag, eating utensils, and personal items.

Do I need to have prior experience?

Nope! Most PCTA projects do not require prior trail maintenance experience, and we encourage all levels of experience to get involved. You will receive a training session by the trail crew leaders before you begin working on a project, including proper techniques and appropriate tool use. If prior experience is required, this will be listed in the project description.

Do I need backpacking experience for the backcountry projects?

Yes. Volunteers are required to have backpacking experience to participate in the backcountry projects. While many of the backcountry projects are pack stock supported, stock typically assist with the food, kitchen gear, and tools. Volunteers need to be prepared to carry in their own personal gear to base camp. Camp is generally 3-8 miles from the trailhead.

What are the age requirements for volunteering on the PCT?

In general, we accept volunteers that are 14 years of age or older. Youth ages 14-15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you are a part of a youth group that is younger than 14, then we may be able to set up a special project for your group. We also will consider those under 14 on a case to case basis.

Tanya Twerdowsky

I am a Jersey girl living in Alabama who loves to run far and eat lots.

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