#1 - Hike the Trail
We cannot emphasize enough how much the trail benefits from simply having people use and enjoy it. People are the trail, after all, so go out for the day or for the weekend. Bring your friends, your parents, your children.
Donate to or Join the Pacific Crest Trail Association
While the US Forest Service is the government agency charged with management of the Trail, it is volunteers who do the lion's share of maintenance, upkeep, and construction on the PCT. These volunteers are recruited and organized by the Pacific Crest Trail Association, a non-profit dedicated to maintaining, promoting, and advocating for the PCT.
Donations and membership dues fund land acquisitions, supply maintenance equipment, feed volunteers, and pay staff who recruit, train, organize, and coordinate volunteers.
Memberships: Joining as an individual or a business comes with a bunch of perks:
- the PCT
Communicator, the PCTA’s full-color, members-only magazine
- a one-year subscription to Backpacker Magazine (US residents only)
- a Pacific Crest Trail decal
- discounts on PCTA store items and PCTA activities
- invitations to participate in trail classes and volunteer trail projects
One-Time Donations: are tax deductible and donors get to choose where their money is spent. Gifts of $35 or more entitle you to the same perks as membership, like the PCT Communicator, subscription to Backpacker, and discounts on store items.
There are lots of ways to volunteer to help the PCT, regardless of age or physical ability. It's not all manual labor and there are office tasks and events to work, so if you want to volunteer, the PCTA will find you a job. Sign up to volunteer here, and be sure to get the emails so you know what opportunities are coming up. You can also check out their schedule of upcoming events, and read their volunteering FAQs for more information about what its like to be on a trail crew.
Join a Local Trail Club
Want to do more than show up for a volunteer event? Interested in planning and running those events, and having a more consistent, involved relationship with trail work? Want to be part of the decision making? Then join one of the twelve regional trail clubs, each responsible for a different part of the trail.
Attend Trail Skills College
Up and down the Trail, the PCTA offers courses on the fundamentals of trail design and maintenance. Classes are free and open to anyone regardless of experience level or background -- whether you are a first-time volunteer or have had a long career in the outdoors.
Join the Student Conservation Association
Since 1957, long before AmeriCorps, the Student Conservation Association was putting young people to work to protect, enhance, and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks, and other public lands. SCA members are
The SCA is possibly the best opportunity for students to learn, plan for, implement, and lead conservation and sustainability programs and practices. It is a pathway to jobs in green fields after you graduate. Visit their website or check them out on facebook.
Join the California Conservation Corps
California residents age 18-25 can join the California Conservation Corps, a state agency that puts young people to work for the environment. Corpsmembers sign up for a year of working outdoors to improve California's natural resources and sometimes assist with emergency responses to fires, floods, and earthquakes. Hikers often pass CCC crews on the PCT.
Are you looking for an Eagle Scout or Gold Award project? The PCT has endless projects and opportunities for scouts. If you don't know how to do those things, that's okay. See if your troop leader has a copy of Lightly on the Land: The SCA Trail Building And Maintenance Manual by Robert C. Birkby. It has all the information you'll need.
How to Create Your Project:
1) Know the Requirements for Your Award
2) Find a Project
You could hike the Trail and look for a potential project but the most direct way to find one is to contact the regional trail club closest to you and simply ask them if they have a project sitting on the drawing board that hasn't been finished because they lacked time, money, materials et cetera. You can also contact the main PCTA office or one of its 5 regional offices.
3) Write a Proposal
Once you have identified a location and a project write up a project proposal that details your plans. You have to do this as part of your Eagle Scout or Gold Award application.
4) Get the PCTA's Help to Coordinate Your Project
You will have to coordinate your project between four groups: the Scouts, the PCTA, the US Forest Service (because is is the government agency responsible for the Trail), and the agency that owns the land where you want to do your project. That could be the US Park Service, US Forest Service, a state park service, the Bureau of Land Management, or a private land owner. The PCTA can help you contact these agencies and get permissions for your project.
5) Create a Project Plan
Create a detailed plan that outlines the who, what, when, and where of the project.
6) Start the Project!
Graphic designers, painters, sculptors, artists of all stripes, email the PCTA about donating some of your work to the Pacific Crest Trail Association to be sold, auctioned, or used as a prize in a raffle. Donations are tax deductible and will help finance ongoing land acquisition, trail building, and trail maintenance, as well as generate publicity for your work. You can appear on the PCTA's facebook page or blog, get hung in the PCTA offices, or have your work sold in the PCTA store.
Anyone can submit photos taken on the Trail to the PCTA's photo contest. The contest is how they get pictures for their magazine, website and social media. Check out their list of tips and considerations before submitting.
Professionals and semi-pros can donate work by giving the PCTA permission to use their photos: