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How to Plan for a Trail Work Trip


Plan on spending the entire day of the trip. Arrangements for tools, the specific work to be done, and other considerations depend on the skills and experiences of the workers present. Coming late or leaving early can compromise the experience for others and disrupt operation of the crew. On some trips we may drive through locked Forest Service gates and there would be no way to accommodate those not with the main group. Use of cell phones in the area is very unreliable.

Work sites in the National Forest routinely have loose rock or gravel, wet ground, and noxious plants and insects. We often clear brush, trees, or briars from the trail. Appropriate clothing and footwear is required. Hiking boots are suggested; sandals should not be considered. Consider clothing carefully to assure comfort and safety. Headwear is recommended. For each trip, bring food for lunch and snacks, three or four quarts of water, work gloves, eye protection, personal items (insect repellent, sun screen…), and any medications you may require. Many of us have found that head nets are very useful to fend off gnats. Bring your gear in a small backpack, since your hands may be required to carry tools to and from the work site.

The work is often detailed and time consuming, requiring full attention to ensure the safety of yourself and others and to accomplish the job properly. Bringing pets or children younger than eighteen years old is very strongly discouraged.

Tools necessary for the trip will be provided by PATC. Many experienced trail workers will own hand clippers in a holster and a small saw. Folding saws can be useful but the 13-inch Corona type saw with triangular teeth has proven to be more useful. DO NOT BRING SWINGING BLADE TOOLS (hatchet, ax, machete, and the like).

At all times but especially in the winter, know and consider carefully the prevailing and predicted weather for the general area where we will work. Stay home if you are uncomfortable with the weather situation.

Please let the designated trip leader(s) know if you plan to attend one of our Trail Work Sessions. We need to know who to expect at the designated meeting site.

In the event the scheduled trip must be cancelled, you will be notified by email or phone as soon as possible; hopefully, not later than noon the Friday before. Workers receiving their email at work should get it before leaving for the day. If you indicate that you will be coming on the trip but then cannot, please call Lee Manning, District Manager, on his cell phone at (703) 209-4856 and leave a message, and/or send email to

Our attitude is "If you aren't having fun, you're not doing it right." We will often plan some social time at the end of the day, either over the tailgates of our vehicles, or at one of the beautiful locations available in the George Washington National Forest.