Eastern Sierra Trail Skills College

Eastern Sierra Trail Skills College (New for 2022!)

The Eastern Sierra Trail Skills College is a free weekend event for volunteers to learn about trail maintenance and stewardship. Beginners and experts alike can benefit from Trail Skills College courses like Crew Leadership, Tread Reconstruction and more.

Trail Skills College is offered free of charge in an effort to inspire stewardship of trails. In exchange for attending the training, we encourage you to volunteer at least 16 hours of work on trail projects in the coming year.

Registration is now closed. 

The 2022 Eastern Trail Skills College is possible thanks to the U.S. Forest Service.

When is it?

The 2022 Eastern Sierra Trail Skills College will be held July 22nd-24th, 2022.

Where is it?

The 2022 Eastern Sierra Trail Skills College will take place at Horsehoe Meadows, near Lone Pine, CA. All classes will meet at the Horseshoe Meadows Campground each morning. Directions to the Campground can be found here.

Are meals and lodging provided?

The PCTA has reserved campsites for attendees at Horseshoe Meadows Campground, on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Meals will be provided from Saturday Breakfast (7/23) through to Sunday Lunch (7/24). If you plan on arriving on Friday evening, please bring your own meal for dinner.

What classes are being offered?

The following classes will be offered in 2022:

Intended for those new to trail work who want to learn how to cut brush and small logs to help clear a trail to proper specifications. After discussion of general safety protocols, students learn about safe and effective use of hand saws and loppers. This class also includes how to complete an early season trail survey to identify and report major problems, especially blown down logs, by their number, location, and size.

Learn how to design and locate effective drainage structures. After a comprehensive explanation of hillside hydrology and how trails work when they shed water properly, this class shows students how to design and construct long, rolling drain dips as a way of reducing erosion on existing trails.

Learn contemporary techniques to build rock steps, and how to install them where tread is gullied and cannot be drained, or in other situations requiring tread armoring. This class serves as a great introduction to dry stone masonry (rock work). 

This session covers the fundamentals of Crosscut Saw use. It focuses on hazard assessment, safety procedures, saw selection and tooth patterns, the importance of axes and wedges, and the best practices for clearing trail effectively in challenging and potentially hazardous situations. This course consists of one classroom day and one field day clearing trail. The instructor will determine the certification level. Long-sleeve shirt, pants, leather boots, eye protection, gloves and hard hats are required. Gloves and hard hats will be available for those who don’t have them. Bring a saw if you have one.  A current CPR and 1st Aid card are required to take Saw certification classes.

What should I bring?

  • Layers work best as outdoor temperatures, weather, and your activity level will vary through the day. Follow
    the layering system for your work and camp clothes. Long pants are required to conduct trail work. Long
    sleeve shirts are recommended for sun and insect protection and in some areas are required for trail work.

    • Layer 1: Long underwear tops, bottoms, and socks; made of lightweight wool or synthetic material.
    • Layer 2: Mid-weight wool or synthetic pants and shirt. Can be more than one layer; bring additional
      layers if you get cold easily. Cotton is not advised.
    • Layer 3: Rain coat or other water/wind resistant coat or poncho and rain pants.
  • Sturdy boots with slip-resistant tread that offer firm and flexible support. No sandals or sneakers
    while working on the trail but you may want these in camp. Saw students have specific footwear
    requirements. See the Crosscut & Chainsaw Training page.
  • Warm hat and warm gloves while at camp.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Pillow

  • Sealable plastic container to pack lunch in
  • Plate / bowl for breakfast and dinner
  • Silverware
  • Cup / insulated drinking mug
  • Water bottles / hydration pack

  • Sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, lip balm
  • Insect repellant
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Daypack
  • Alarm clock

  • Camp chair (compact)
  • Supplemental snacks
  • Camera
  • Bandana
  • Safety gear (i.e. hard hats, gloves) will be provided throughout the weekend. However, if you have safety gear that you would prefer to use, please bring it with you.

What should I leave at home?

Please do not bring pets to Trail Skills College.

As with any camp, please do not leave valuables in your tent during the day. Plan on either storing your valuables on you, in your vehicle, or leave them at home

Can’t wait?

Don’t forget, you can learn new trail maintenance skills by volunteering on a PCTA trail crew any time. Most crews don’t require any previous trail maintenance experience. Knowledgeable and experienced crew leaders are on site to teach you the necessary skills.  Visit PCTA’s online schedule to find trail projects near you.

If you have questions about Trail Skills College, contact PCTA’s Volunteer Program at [email protected].

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