September 16, 2014 / Comments (0)

AMC Basic Trail Maintenance Course

trail maintenance

Peak bagging New Hampshire’s 4000 footers is how I like to spend my free time. Whether it’s getting above treeline in winter or stringing together multiple routes to high peaks, I’m all about being on the trail. I’ve left a lot of foot prints in the White Mountains and decided to do something to give back.

I spent some time researching Appalachian Mountain Club’s Adopt-A-Trail program. I know multiple trail adopters and they’ve really enjoyed having ownership of the work done on a particular trail. I decided to find a trail in need.

The Appalachian Mountain Club keeps a list of orphaned trails located in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. I soon became the proud adopter of a two mile stretch on the Osseo Trail.

AMC offers a basic trail maintenance course where you can learn the nuts and bolts of trail maintenance: drainage, clearing, brushing, and blazing. Everything I’d need to know to begin maintaining my newly adopted trail I would learn here. The course is even free of charge for new or current trail adopters!

I met Jack, our teacher for the course, and three other new trail adopters bright and early at the Camp Dodge Volunteer Center in Pinkham Notch.

Jack went over the trail maintainer work report, safety tips, and other essential information before we got outside.

Our first stop was the tool shed. It was important for us to know what tools are available to us as well as the proper tools to use for various projects.

We then headed to the Imp Trail where we spent most of the day. We would do some hiking while learning the proper way to maintain our own trails. We really focused on drainage, clearing and brushing waterbars and side ditches. In one day we worked on eleven waterbars!

The most useful bit of information I learned was how to look at the trail in a variety of ways. How will hikers see this section? Is the corridor easy to follow or may they get lost? Is it clear where hikers should step or may this section become wider from people avoiding mud or obstacles in the trail?

We also looked at how the water will flow in rain. we noticed small details like the slope in a waterbar. We learned ways to prevent trail erosion.

As we hiked back to Camp Dodge, we noticed there were very faded blazes where the Imp Trail intersects an unmarked trail. We got a paint kit and started painting. We all got a chance to paint our first blaze!


If you have enjoyed being on the trails, I highly recommend taking some time to give back. If adopting a trail is too much, look into the following organizations for one day to week long work parties:

Appalachian Mountain Club


Cohos Trail

Society for the Protection of NH Forests

Green Mountain Club

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Last modified: September 1, 2017

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