Justin Kooyman named Director of Trail Operations at PCTA

Kooyman backpacking in the Hoover Wilderness

Good news—Justin Kooyman has been named PCTA’s next Director of Trail Operations!

Justin Kooyman came to PCTA in 2008 and served as the Association’s first Northern Sierra Regional Representative. As Justin puts it, “I was one of the ‘first-generation’ Regional Reps; I was hired as the organization was building out our Regional Rep program.”   

After serving as a Regional Representative for nearly 10 years, Justin moved into the Associate Director of Trail Operations role in 2018. In this position, he focused on trail-wide management and protection work, as well as supported the Regional Reps with local projects. Some of Justin’s work in this realm has been working on the Southern Sierra National Forests’ Plan Revision processes which established the first PCT Management Areas; working through travel management planning; engaging with energy development projects; working trail-wide and with Regional Reps on local vegetation management projects with the goal of reducing fuels to protect against future, large-scale wildfires, to name a few.  

Beyond work duties, Justin is passionate about being outdoors as much as possible.  Hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and birdwatching on his own, with family, or with friends are some of his favorite activities. As he says, “I find that there aren’t too many things more moving or satisfying than being outside, whether hiking the PCT or gliding along a trackless snowfield, and taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and energy of the natural world.” 

Kooyman skiing with his son at Johnsville Ski Area in Plumas, Co.

Justin acknowledges that there are several challenges and opportunities that the PCT faces in 2024 and that the Trail Ops staff will directly work on:

“I am eager and appreciative to have the opportunity to provide leadership and support to our Trail Operations program.  We have an amazing team that brings such a broad array of skills and experiences that make us poised to do a fantastic job with the collaborative management and maintenance of the PCT. Also, I’m eager to see us elevate our work with our volunteer programs to provide better structure and support for our dedicated volunteers, and to provide opportunities for all people to participate as volunteers to maintain and improve the PCT. Additionally, I look forward to focusing on our visitor use management work to better understand the impacts associated with levels of use that will inform strategies for better stewarding the PCT and surrounding landscapes that are essential to the PCT experience.”

Information on PCTA’s visitor use management program: Managing visitor use on the PCT – Pacific Crest Trail Association (pcta.org). Learn about our volunteer program here: Volunteer on the Pacific Crest Trail – trail crew + trail maintenance (pcta.org). 

We asked Justin to share a fond or funny memory from his time with PCTA, and this immediately came to mind:

“In my first year as a Regional Representative, I was walking along doing trail assessment, and instead of taking notes, I was capturing verbal notes with a voice recorder. I was so lost in trail assessment thoughts that I didn’t notice the rattlesnake that I was about to step on until it rattled vigorously. I sprung out of the way, caught my breath from being startled, and turned off the voice recorder. It was so funny listening back to my recording as I was transcribing my trail assessment verbal notes. Here I am in the middle of a sentence when all of a sudden, you can hear a loud rattle and the sound of me jumping out of the way. It’s hilarious, and I laugh about it every time I think of that recording.”

Kooyman at the Southern Terminus with Trailhead Host Jay

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.