A.T. Maintenance Volunteers Are Needed!
The Appalachian Trail Maintainers Committee (ATMC) of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (SMHC) maintains 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and 30 miles in the Nantahala National Forest south of the Park. We receive major assistance from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the National Park staff, US Forest Service staff as well as the Friends of the Smokies and other organizations.
We divide the trail into sections of one to three miles and assign Section Leaders who schedule their own maintenance trips, usually one-day outings. We also conduct one-day group work trips on the first Saturday of most months, March through November. We have a list of “Extra Crew” members who are notified when help is needed, either by a Section Leader or for the monthly one-day trips. Experienced maintainer volunteers will lead work trips and provide on-the-job training for new maintainers.
Basic maintenance includes cutting back brush and weeds to clear the trail corridor, cleaning out water drainages to reduce erosion, and filling in washed-out areas around steps. The club forms specialized volunteer crews as needed that remove large blowdowns, work on major treadway initiatives, and keep our shelters, privies, and trail signage maintained. All Park maintenance is done with hand tools because the Park is maintained as a wilderness area. Some tools are stashed at back country shelter locations, but maintainers normally expect to carry in needed tools in addition to their pack containing their personal food and gear. Any backpacking maintenance trips are made in compliance with Park requirements for permits, reservations, etc.
The club is also supported by seasonal crews that spend up to 8 days working on large initiatives. These crews are managed by ATC crew leaders and include volunteers from across the country. Club maintainers are encouraged to join these crews for a day or more when possible. These are an excellent opportunity for maintainers to gain additional experience about trail construction and maintenance techniques.
The club also has volunteer opportunities that are more administrative in nature. It takes a lot of planning and organization to support the efforts to keep the trail and shelters maintained.
If you would enjoy these work trips, please sign up by completing this form. You may also call us at 931-224-5149. We will add your name to our Extra Crew list and reach out to you to gain an understanding of the level of commitment you might be interested in. Experienced maintainer volunteers will lead the trips and will provide on-the-job training for new maintainers.
Join us! We welcome new volunteers at any level of experience. Trail maintenance is a rewarding experience and an excellent way to further your hiking enjoyment.