Tahoe Trail Skills College

New and seasoned trail maintainers head to the summit to build their skill sets at the 2017 Tahoe Trail Skills College. Photo by Cindy Leggett.

2022 Tahoe Trail Skills College

The Tahoe 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 Intro to Trail Maintenance, Waterbars & Checks 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.

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

The 2022 Tahoe Trail Skills College has concluded. Check back soon for information about next year’s event!

When is it?

Classes took place on June 25th and 26th, 2022. Participants are invited to join us on the evening of the 24th and camp overnight.

Where is it?

The main event & camping took place at the Hobart Work Center, just north of Truckee, CA. Individual courses will take place at various trailheads in the area.

How much does it cost?

Trail Skills College is free of charge.

Are meals and lodging provided?

Meals will be provided on Saturday (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) and Sunday (Breakfast, Lunch). Please note your dietary restrictions on your volunteer profile when registering.

Camping will be provided on Friday and Saturday nights, on-site at Hobart Work Center. The campground will have water, bathrooms, and parking.

Can I just attend for one day?

No- all classes at this year’s event are two-day courses, so partial attendance will not be possible.

What’s the fitness level of Trail Skills College?

The fitness level of the field sessions will vary depending on the classes you select during registration. However, all participants should be prepared to hike a minimum of 1-2 miles while carrying personal gear and tools. Participants should also be prepared for the hands-on learning opportunities in many of these classes, resulting in 6 hours of active trail maintenance per day.

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.

Where earthen rolling drain dips are not feasible, drainage features
are sometimes armored using rock or log. Learn contemporary techniques to build water bars. The class will include a review of “old school” waterbars, and how to convert “old school” waterbars to a more effective design. Furthermore, learn how to install rock and log checks where tread is gullied and cannot be drained, or in other situations requiring tread armoring

Learn fundamentals of rock construction including an emphasis on effective and safe use of rock bars, the critical tool for all rock work. We’ll tackle basic rock placement techniques for rock walls to last the ages. 

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.

Each session will follow enhanced Covid-19 safety protocols.

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

How do I register?

Registration is now closed.

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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