Love nature? Go outside and be a trail volunteer

Do your part.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Mar 29, 2022

Although I have yet to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and Machu Picchu, I still consider myself an avid hiker and nature lover. I absolutely love the thrill of climbing a very hard hike and reaching the top, admiring the view. Or working up a sweat and running up one of the hills for added fitness.


As an environmentalist concerned about preserving our planet, I’ve been looking into more of what I can do individually to ensure nature trails, hikes, and wildlife stay in tact to the best of my ability. In my research, I came across a plethora of associations, like the Pacific Crest Trail Association, that recruits volunteers to assist with trail repair and preservation.


Some tasks can be grueling, some glamorous. But whatever the task, people love it and have a real sense of community. So, if you’re looking to give back to the outdoors and preserve its beauty, volunteering could be the perfect fit.


Volunteers do everything from computer work, social media, setting up tables at trailheads, answering questions from hikers, manning horseback riding sections along trails, and passing out snacks to hikers. Some volunteers even go set up tables at popular outdoor gear companies like REI to speak to the community about what the trail is and ways to get involved. Often with these types of volunteers, a small swag bag is passed out.


If you’d like to get your hands dirty, you can team up with a leader or even lead a team of your own and help clear the trail and prevent erosion. Of course, certain trail caretakers are required to have First Aid and CPR certifications, but you’d be surprised how many volunteers don’t need any prerequisite skills, talent, or knowledge. There are tons of fun, mindless tasks that are tedious, but need some tending to.


However, if you want to learn a new skill, you might be interested in signing up for a certification course. They’ve got tons, a popular one being a sawyer, so you can learn to saw stuff. Regardless, it’s a very on-the-job type of training and a helping hand, and an asset to the condition of the forest or trail. Of course, safety is of utmost importance.


So if you ever wondered who was behind keeping the trails that you love so clean, now you know. And who knows, maybe one day that could be you.


Looking to reconnect with nature around NYC? Head out to Minnewaska State Park and hit up one of these trails.