CLRD Adopt-a-Trail Program

Volunteer working with a stone along a trail.

Getting Started

The Adopt-A-Trail Program is a cooperative effort between volunteers and the U.S. Forest Service to provide much-needed maintenance on national forest trails. Individuals, families, or groups interested in helping keep public trails open can begin by contacting the Canyon Lakes District Office.

Trails staff will discuss potential trails for “adoption” with each interested organization. Selections are based on a trail’s need for maintenance, as well as the organization’s needs. Participation starts with the signing of an agreement to maintain a trail mutually agreed upon by the Forest Service and volunteers.

It is important to take the time commitment seriously, as early termination of an agreement may leave a popular trail without maintenance. A three-year commitment to the program is required, although most groups stay much longer.

Program Overview

Once a trail has been “adopted,” volunteer crew leaders are taught by Forest Service staff to perform basic trail maintenance and construction techniques. Basic maintenance consists of clearing the trail of small downed trees and intruding limbs and brush, and cleaning and repairing erosion control structures such as water bars.

The group will work at its own pace and on its own schedule within a generally recommended time frame. Crew leaders and Forest Service staff will work with volunteer teams for the first full year of service to teach these skills to volunteers on the team.

What the Forest Service Provides

• Expert guidance and training on basic trail maintenance techniques.
• Use of tools and equipment (guaranteed the first two years).
• An “adoption” sign for the trail after one successful year of maintenance by an organization.

Volunteer Responsibilities

• Provide one person from the group to become the liaison with the Forest Service.
• Provide labor to perform routine opening, annual condition surveys, and maintenance on district trails.
• Provide crew leaders willing to attend the Forest Service trails workshop offered each spring (all work needs to conform to Forest Service trail standards).
• Maintain tools and equipment and notify the Forest Service of needed repairs.
• Schedule at least three work days- or two trips- per year.
• Notify the Forest Service prior to all work, and complete a work log for each day.
• Provide necessary adult supervision and leadership for group when work is being done.
• Report your accomplishments to the Forest Service using the Adopt-A-Trail website.
• Ensure all volunteers have adequate leather work boots and gloves on work days.
• Ensure crew leaders have current basic first aid certification.

After basic maintenance has been completed and meets Forest Service specifications, maintenance in subsequent years may require less effort. The adopter may wish to take responsibility for another trail or section of trail.

Program Goals

As time increases the level of interest and commitment within the volunteer group, the group may be able to implement the following program goals:

• Enough volunteers/volunteer time will be donated to the adopted trail that maintenance levels will go down in time.
• As the group gains expertise, they may conduct training sessions with the Forest Service to certify volunteer trail crew leaders. These leaders may then supervise volunteer crews with minimal Forest Service presence.
• Within two years, the group should be able to begin to purchase a few tools to start a tool cache.
• Within five years, the group should have the expertise to manage the basic trail maintenance work days without on-site Forest Service assistance.


Tools for trail work are very sharp and dangerous. This program is not appropriate for youth under 12 years of age, and volunteers must be 16 years of age to use a swinging tool such as a Pulaski. This is hard, dusty work, often in hot conditions. Volunteers should be in good physical condition.


Contact Kristy Wumkes for additional information at 970-295-6721.

Key Contacts

Boulder Ranger District

Elaine Wells, Visitor Information Services

Canyon Lakes Ranger District

Kristy Wumkes, Volunteer Coordinator

Clear Creek Ranger District

Visitor Information Services

Pawnee National Grassland District

Visitor Information Services

Sulphur Ranger District

Visitor Information Services