Trail Management & Support

Rocky Top Trail Crew Couple WorkingThe Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) works with federal, state, and local agencies, and the Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs in the cooperative management of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).

Trail management encompasses the on–the-ground stewardship performed by volunteers and agency partners to maintain the Trail, its structures, and its natural and cultural resources. It includes keeping the footpath clear of natural overgrowth and blowdowns; building and relocating sections of the footpath, building and repairing shelters and other structures, and caring for overnight sites. The ATC coordinates this work, provides training, helps set policy parameters, supplies funding and other assistance to the Trail clubs, and recruits and manages volunteer Trail crews.

Our stewardship efforts include educating and supporting Trail users to adopt hiking and camping techniques that minimize damage to the natural environment. We promote Leave No Trace principles and deploy ridgerunners and caretakers along high-use sections of the Trail to help hikers and other visitors understand those principles and avoid unnecessary resource damage.

To help ensure consistent management practices along the roughly 2,180 miles of the Trail, we provide a number of resources for volunteer leaders, agencies and others, including a library of A.T. management policies and other reference materials.

Trail Management

Toolkit For Volunteer Leaders
Managing the Appalachian Trail is a complex project. Trail management policies, tips for volunteer managers, links to training workshops, the Local Management Planning Guide, and other reference materials can all be accessed in one place. 

Training and Workshops
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides training and workshops for members of the Trail maintaining clubs and others, including a certification program for those who want to use chain saws or crosscut saws on the A.T.

Trail Crews
The ATC recruits, trains, and leads volunteer Trail crews to work on large-scale projects, such as relocations, treadway rehabilitation, and bridge and shelter construction. Learn about our Trail crews and how you can help build and protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail by joining a crew. No previous experience is necessary - just a desire to work hard, live in the backcountry, and have a great time among friends.

Ridgerunners & Caretakers
Each year, more than 30 ATC-supported ridgerunners and caretakers are hired by the ATC, one of the A.T maintaining clubs or one of the land-managing agency partners. Those seasonal ridgerunners and caretakers interact with tens of thousands of Trail visitors every year, providing them with information on the Trail and how to minimize their impact on Trail resources. They also report on trail conditions and resource damage and may help with Trail and facility maintenance.