Volunteer Learning Center

PCTA trail work learning centerThe Volunteer Learning Center is full of resources for new and seasoned volunteers. Find information on trail maintenance guidelines and the tools used to trail crew structure and safety. Trail crew leaders can find forms and other paperwork on the Crew Leader page.

For new trail crew volunteers

PCTA Volunteer Trail Crew Guidebook – Day Projects This resource will give you a great idea of what it’s like to be a volunteer on a day-long trail crew. It’s full of information including what to bring, types of projects, and Leave No Trace principles.
PCTA Volunteer Trail Crew Guidebook – Overnight Projects This resource will give you a great idea of what it’s like to be a volunteer on an overnight trail crew. In addition to information like what to bring and Leave No Trace principles, this guidebook also covers a crew’s daily schedule, meals, and backcountry basics.
USFS volunteering for trail maintenance (video) This video is designed to prepare volunteers for working on trail maintenance, with tips on preparation and what to expect on the work site.
Inyo National Forest highlights PCTA volunteers (video) See the PCTA Can Do Crew in action and hear about their experiences in this 6 minute video.

Trail maintenance resources

Trail Skills College Curriculum PCTA course handouts for instructors and students.
PCT Criteria for Location, Design, Signing, and User Facilities A summary of information from the US Forest Service Comprehensive Management Plan providing trail users and volunteers a better understanding of the basis on how operational decisions are made.
USFS Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook A compilation from the Missoula Technology and Development Center with basic trail construction and maintenance information; it is a pocket-size manual organized in an easy-to-understand fashion oriented to the needs of the trail worker. Order a hard copy.
USFS Hand Tools for Trail Work The tools shown here are those used most often by US Forest Service trail crews. They are categorized into tools for sawing, chopping, grubbing, digging and tamping, pounding and hammering, lifting and hauling, peeling and shaping, and sharpening and rehandling. Each tool is described along with helpful techniques for use and maintenance.
USFS Publications List A one stop shop for Forest Service documents that focus on trail maintenance safety, tools, and policies.

Trail crew safety

All about fuel geysers 

FAQ about Fuel Geysering and the Soter Fuel System 10 frequently asked questions on fuel geysers and 18 questions about the Soter Fuel System (SFS), a closed vaporless refueling system that’s being evaluated by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies.
How to Avoid a Fuel Geyser Step-by-step instructions for when a Stihl saw is running poorly and “vapor lock” is suspected.
Fuel Geyser Awareness Discussions “Stop! Think! Act!” discussion topics for situations with potential fuel geysers.
Stihl Fueling Instructions v.Oct2019 User manual from Stihl that specifically addresses fuel geysering and the need to let your saw cool.
Know Your Fuel Top tips about the fuel you use, how to obtain it properly, and how to prevent fuel geysers.
Confirmed Fuel Geysering Equipment Models of chainsaws, leaf blowers & fuel containers involved in geysering incidents as of September 2018.
Equipment Procurement Direction from USFS Stop procurement of any engine-driven portable equipment that does not automatically maintain fuel tank pressure under four PSI.
Transportation Guide for Gasoline and Fuel Guide on the special requirements for flammable liquid fuels such as gasoline and mixed gas.
Report a Fuel Geyser Incident The details collected in the report will be used by the US Forest Service, National Technology Development Program and industry partners to develop and evaluate engineering solutions.

All about hard hats

Hardhat Serviceability Inspection Safety Guide for hard hat inspection and maintenance, published by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
USFS Head Protection Memo on the proper use, care, and replacement of hard hats, published by the U.S. Forest Service.
USFS Hard Hat Tech Tips Understand the components of your hard hat.
Use of Adhesives on Hard Hats Before placing stickers on your hard hat, read these safety reminders published by Bullard.

Continue learning

6 Minutes for Safety A daily safety program provided by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Though trail workers aren’t firefighters, many of these field-based safety reminders still apply.
Stop the Bleed Booklet Produced by the Hartford Consensus, this booklet will help you learn the various ways to control bleeding, whether you only have your two hands to use or a full trauma first aid kit available.
Communicating with inReach Devices PCTA’s recommendations and best practices for communicating with two-way satellite messaging devices in the field.
PCTA’s Guidelines for Working in Smoky Conditions Use this guide to better recognize hazardous conditions and when mitigation or evacuation are prudent. Revised April 2024
USFS Hazard Tree Guidelines These hazard tree guidelines provide a means to identify and abate hazard from trees that are likely to fail and cause injury to either people or property.
PCTA’s Overhead Hazard Guidelines PCTA’s recommendations for ways to mitigate risk when working in areas with overhead hazards.
Check-In and Check-Out Protocol Requires trail volunteers to employ a TCP and tracker on every volunteer mission, and carry a device that gets reception at or near your site.
inReach Fundamentals A recorded webinar that explains how to set up your inReach device before heading out on an adventure.
Alcohol & Marijuana Policy PCTA’s policy on the possession and use of alcohol and marijuana during volunteer projects.
Backcountry Lightning Risk Management Information on lightening, protecting yourself during storms, and providing first aid to lightning strike victims.
USFS Prevention of Sexual Harassment US Forest Service Region 5 policy on sexual harassment in the work place.
Preventing Heat Related Illness Information on how to be safe while working outdoors.
One Moving Part: The Forest Service Ax Manual

This manual provides information about different types of axes and their historic and current usage in the Forest Service. Released October 2020.

An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual

Information on the history, use, and purchasing of an ax. Released July 1999.


↑ Back to top