We need YOU to help realign the PCT in the Sierra Buttes

The new alignment of a 6.5-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in northern California’s Sierra Buttes has been years in the making. We’ve celebrated many milestones, notably, opening a newly constructed 3.9 miles of trail that passes by the gorgeous Tamarack Lakes in 2017.

Structures are built to make a sustainable and graded trail. Photo by Kat Meyo.

This year, PCTA staff members, volunteers and partner corps crews from American Conservation Experience (ACE) are nearing the completion of the work in this area. Even though the entire re-route is open to the public, a few projects remain to make the trail more durable and sustainable. In this steep, rocky terrain, some of the finishing touches on the trail tread require a large investment of time, skill and sweat. There are many opportunities for you to volunteer and get involved.

“There’s something up there for everyone,” said Connor Swift, the PCTA’s Northern Sierra Regional Representative. “It’s a beautiful setting and you can complete a variety of tasks as a volunteer. You can swing a pick in the dirt or just cut away brush while enjoying the fresh air.”

New trail construction is hard work. Photo by Eleonore Anderson.

Along with the chance to transform the PCT, you’ll get to learn from professional trail crew members. You’ll work alongside a group of young adults from ACE and receive instruction and supervision from one of the PCTA’s technical advisors.

Nick Klein-Baer, a volunteer on one of last year’s Sierra Buttes projects with ACE, wrote: “By any metric — tonnage of rock/dirt moved, gallons of water consumed, millimeters of dirt caked to my face or potency of body odor — I worked just about as hard as I ever had.” The best part is, Nick plans to join us again this year!

An ACE crew member makes rock crush near a new retaining wall. Photo by Eleonore Anderson.

Though there are lighter tasks like brushing the trail corridor, you must plan to hike this terrain with tools and gear and spend all day on the trail. You can choose more challenging tasks like using heavy rock bars and picks to remove rocks, roots and stumps from the trail.

Hard work has great rewards. You’ll enjoy free meals and a comfortable backcountry basecamp in the scenic “Lost Sierra” two hours north of Lake Tahoe near the popular trail town of Sierra City.

Read more about the remaining Sierra Buttes projects and find a project that works for your schedule:

Aug. 21-24: ACE Sierra Buttes Packer Lake Rd

Aug. 28-31 : ACE Sierra Buttes Deer Lake Part 1- Crew 2

Aug. 31-Sept. 4: ACE Sierra Buttes Deer Lake Part 2

Sept. 11-14: ACE Sierra Buttes North Part 1

ACE crew members enjoy a view from the lookout near the new PCT they helped build. Photo by Eleonore Anderson.

Thanks to you, a better PCT experience

The new route in the Sierra Buttes resolves problems where the PCT shared the tread with vehicle traffic on forest roads. It also moved the trail from private property onto public land and eliminates conflicts with other user groups. It is more scenic and has better quality water sources and camping opportunities.

This realignment project would not have been possible without many years of strong partnerships and the dedication of volunteers, staff and our Forest Service partners, all of whom contributed time, energy and hard work.

A volunteer works alongside an ACE crew member. Photo by Clare Major.

We’d like to extend our community’s gratitude to the donors who made this work possible. Thank you to all of the PCTA members and donors, the National Forest Foundation for a large grant, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Forest Service for continued funding of the trail.

We hope you consider joining this effort! You can find Sierra Buttes projects (and many other volunteer trail maintenance opportunities in California, Oregon, and Washington) by visiting our online volunteer schedule.

Author: Emily Bauska

Emily Bauska is the PCTA’s Volunteer Programs Outreach Associate. She is excited about sharing the stories of the hard-working volunteers who maintain the Pacific Crest Trail. Emily grew up hiking in her native state of Oregon and completed a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada in 2013. When not on the trail, you can find her bicycling or tending to her vegetable garden.