Rob Burbank's Outdoors with the AMC: Get out, get dirty, give back

By ROB BURBANK May 04. 2018 7:57PM

Next year will mark the centennial of the Appalachian Mountain Club's professional trail crew, a major milestone here in the White Mountains, and an opportunity to celebrate the many miles of trails created and maintained by dedicated trail stewards.

In 2017 alone, AMC's pro crew removed 576 blown-down trees, cleaned more than 5,000 drainages, and set 116 rock steps, among other accomplishments. It's tough work, and it helps ensure the continued integrity of the region's hiking trails that are enjoyed by so many.

In addition to those staff contributions, AMC's trail stewardship efforts are made possible thanks to the sweat, muscle, and dedication provided by legions of volunteers who contribute tens of thousands of hours to the maintenance of trails throughout the Northeast.

AMC trail volunteers subscribe to the motto, "Get Out, Get Dirty, Give Back," and their dedication is key to the success of the program and evident in the miles of pathways they maintain.

Many trail stewards get their start at special events where skills are often taught and volunteers are encouraged to pitch in with a pick mattock, grub hoe, or lopping shears, clearing drainages and clipping brush to help arrest erosion and keep pathways open. The country's big event, which features volunteer trail projects from coast to coast, is National Trails Day, organized by the American Hiking Society and slated this year for June 2 (

Volunteers can also join a trail crew and work alongside others to maintain trails. AMC offers several options on the White Mountains for teens and adults. Some offer accommodations at a base camp with bunkhouse lodging, while others, known as "spike crew" programs, provide tent camping close to backcountry trail work sites.

Increasingly popular offerings are one- and two-week trail volunteer programs for teens. Tools are provided and skills are taught.

Offerings in this year's line-up include:

Young Members Trail Crew Volunteer Vacation, July 1-July 6. Designed for volunteers aged 18-39, this White Mountains-based program "may include maintenance projects from basic brush clearing to building rock or wood structures," according to the course description. This volunteer crew is based out of AMC's Camp Dodge, and participants hike to trail work sites.

White Mountain All Women's Spike Volunteer Vacation, July 15-20. Participants will hike to the work site and spend several days and nights in the backcountry performing trail work that may include clearing brush and drainages, building bog bridges and cairns, and painting blazes.

Carter Notch Hut Volunteer Vacation, Oct. 14-Oct. 19. Participants will backpack supplies in to Carter Notch Hut, which will be their base of operations for nearby trail work that may include clearing brush, cleaning drainages, and building bog bridges.

White Mountain 1-Week Base Camp Teen Trail Crew (Ages 14-16), June 17-June 22. Based at AMC's Camp Dodge, the crew will hike to work sites, where they may be engaged in clearing brush, installing bog bridges, repairing ski trails, painting blazes, building cairns, and other tasks.

White Mountain 1-Week Spike Teen Trail Crew (Ages 15-17), June 24-June 29. The crew will camp near the worksite in the backcountry, where they may be engaged in installing water bars and bog bridges, working on shelters, and painting blazes, among other tasks.

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In addition to White Mountains-based programs, AMC trail volunteer vacations are available at AMC's Cardigan Lodge and Cold River Camp, at Acadia National Park, in the Maine woods, and at the Stephen and Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center in New York's Harriman State Park.

Detailed descriptions are at

Rob Burbank is director of external relations for the Appalachian Mountain Club ( in Pinkham Notch. His column appears monthly in the Sunday News.

EnvironmentHikingOutdoors with the AMC

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