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

Fuel Geysers 

National Fuel Geyser Awareness Campaign Website managed by the US Forest Service devoted to fuel geyser awareness, prevention and reporting.
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.
Fuel Tank Safety A 5-minute video about the causes of fuel tank pressurization, vapor lock and safe fuel handling techniques.
Chainsaw Fuel Tank Safety A 6-minute video specifically about chainsaw fuel tank pressurization and safe fuel handling.


Alcohol & Marijuana Policy PCTA’s policy on the possession and use of alcohol and marijuana during volunteer projects.
USFS Head Protection Proper use, care, and replacement of head protection (hard hats).
USFS Hard Hat Tech Tips Inspection and maintenance of your hard hat.
Bullard – Use of Adhesives on Hard Hats Information on how to care for your hard hat.
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 a sexual harassment in the work place.
Preventing Heat Related Illness Information on how to be safe while working outdoors.
First Aid Kit Contents List of PCTA recommended first aid kit contents to meet OSHA requirements for saw crew first aid kits.
Revised March 2015.


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Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton