Helpful Tips for Organizing a Trail Volunteer Event

One trail hero is all it takes to pick up a discarded wrapper along a trail. And a group of trail heroes? Well, there’s strength in numbers and amazing things can happen when a group of dedicated individuals come together for a single mission. Here are some tips and tricks to help you gather family, friends, neighbors and others to improve a trail you love.


Decide What Needs Doin’

Trail clean-ups are among the most common trail events because they’re easy, have a readily identifiable impact and usually require no particular training for the participants. But there are lots of other options, too. Trail events can be centered around gardening, removing invasive plants, performing wildlife counts and more. Contact the managing agency for the trail—typically a city or county parks department—for advice about what tasks are most needed and to find out if there are any restrictions or regulations to be aware of.

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail, NE | Photo: Courtesy Cowboy Trail West, Inc.


Scheduling Considerations

The time and date you choose to organize a trail event will be one of the largest variables in the amount of volunteer help you get. Springtime is good for trail clean-ups as the season often puts people in the mindset of “spring cleaning” and you’re likely to have comfortable weather for your outdoor outing. But there are advantages to other seasons, too. Summer and winter may present opportunities to get participation from students on school break or adults on vacation.

Rail Trail Ramble | Northern Rail Trail, NH | Photo: Courtesy Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Grafton County


Organize, organize, organize!

The better your event is organized, the smoother it will run, which will have the effect of making people more likely to participate again. Plus, planning in advance helps minimize safety risks and maximize stress-free fun on the appointed day! Experience is the best teacher, of course, and many elements of your planning will be refined and improved with practice and experience. If this is your first time, a lot can be gained by thinking through the event from beginning to end and imagining how it will play out and what might go wrong. For more support, you may want to consider teaming up with an experienced volunteer or veteran event planner.

Montour Trail, PA | Photo: Courtesy Montour Trail Council

Gather in advance any supplies you might need, such as two-way radios for the volunteer organizers, plenty of trash bags, disposable gloves, basic first aid kits, drinking water, etc. And consider logistics, such as where your volunteers can park, where the closest public restrooms are for their use and if there’s an appropriate place available for the disposal of all the trash gathered by your hardworking group.


Spread the Word

Spread the word within your group using your usual communication channels, like on your social media pages, but with the outside world as well. Using TrailLink’s new event feature, you can promote your event for free to help get the word out. Take photos during your event, too, to remember a job well done and help promote your next volunteering excursion!


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