Volunteering Outdoors – Trail Maintenance

 

Badger Creek Trail

I recently took a hike on the Badger Lake Trail in the Sky Lakes Wilderness of south-central Oregon with a group of friends.  Nothing unusual about that and we’ll have a story and video about the trip in the eMagazine before too long.  What was unusual is that, as a group of six, we completed two miles of trail maintenance while on the hike.

Trail Maintenance

We signed on as Forest Service volunteers.  We were provided, hardhats, gloves, tools and a leader and set forth to improve the trail.  In this case, the trail was in pretty good shape compared to many I have traveled on, but the vegetation (mostly huckleberry bushes and a few small trees) was creeping into the trail and the Forest Service likes to see maintenance efforts open a six-foot wide path.  That should keep the trail easily passable for a couple years anyway.

Mt McLaughlin from Badger Creek Trail

Mt. McLaughlin and Four Mile Lake as seen from the Badger Lake Trail

Water will tend to run down trails that aren’t flat and wash off the soil if it isn’t diverted periodically.  These diversions, or cross drains, look like a dip in the trail.  Many of them were filling in with dirt so one of our group dug those out so they would function properly.

As you can see in the photo at the top of the page, most of the trail didn’t really need much work.  This is at the start of the trail near Four Mile Lake.  It gets less use the farther one gets from the parking lot.  With less use,  the vegetation is better able to grow into the trail.  There were many places where the trail narrowed and several yards needed to be brushed out.  That’s mostly what we did.

Volunteering

Badger Lake

Badger Lake

If you would like to participate in work like this,  contact your local Forest Service Ranger Station (find your favorite forest at www.fs.fed.us then get the contact information from the left hand column).  Talk to the trails person, usually a recreation staff person.  They should be able to sign you up, then let you know when opportunities to participate in trail maintenance work come up.

Better yet,  if you can get together a group, you can work with the Forest Service to set up a date for your work adventure and make it a community effort.  Besides another excuse to get outdoors and explore, volunteering lets you give back to the others that enjoy trails the same way you do.

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