If you like to explore local trails, there’s someone you need to thank: your local trail maintainer, or more often, trail maintenance team. These people put in a lot of time and energy into creating and maintaining the trails that allow you to get out and explore. The next time you hit the trails, take a moment and say thanks for a few things:
Keeping You Safe
Trail maintenance involves clearing hazards and building bridges and other structures over potentially dangerous areas like rushing rivers. Trail maintainers also do upkeep on these bridges and structures.
Staying On Track
It’s no fun being lost, and we can thank our trail maintenance teams for doing their part to keeping us on the right track. From installing signs to tying route markers along a trail, they’re in charge of marking trails so that you can get from one point to another without getting lost in the woods.
Protecting the Environment
It’s a tricky balancing act: we want to get out there and enjoy nature, but we don’t want to trample over it and destroy it. Well-maintained trails keep people on the right path, avoiding unnecessary erosion to the ecology. That means that we can have our cake and eat it, too. On that note, remember to stick to the trails that the crews work hard to maintain—don’t be a trail DIYer.
It’s an unfortunate reality that some trail users leave more than just footsteps. Trail maintenance teams do a great job gathering all the garbage some people leave behind on the trails. You can make their lives easier by picking up trash that you encounter during your hike.
Finding Opportunities to Explore
Trail maintainers create portals that allow people to access areas of nature they might not otherwise be able to see. It’s easy to take for granted a trail that leads you to the very top of a mountain with relative ease. Remember somebody designed that trail, and many people were involved with building and maintaining that trail, likely in the face of challenges such as windstorms, heavy rain, and fallen trees. It kind of makes you want to climb to the top of a mountain to sing their praises.
Picking the Route
The next time you head out on the trail, take note of the strategic ways it was built in order to navigate around natural obstacles. Observe the switchbacks that allow you to climb up high without totally wearing yourself out. Notice the chains, ropes, and other features that were added to help you get an extra boost where you needed it. All of these elements were carefully designed to help you get the most out of your trail experience. So, if you happen to cross paths with a trail maintainer, be sure to give them a high five and a “thanks” for enabling your expedition. Even better, ask them how you can get involved.