From short paths connecting neighborhoods to downtowns to epic trails traversing mountain ranges, Maine is covered in trails. We list over 1,100 trail systems on Maine Trail Finder and are adding more new trails every month! All of these trails do not appear out of thin air – they are designed, built and stewarded by land trusts, state and federal agencies, town recreation departments and, in many cases, by volunteers.
Trail volunteers are people just like you who are interested in helping care for the trails they love to visit. There are many opportunities to help out on Maine’s trails and this month, the Maine Trails Coalition is promoting Love Maine Trails Month to get as many volunteers out on trails as possible.
You don’t need any special skills to get out and volunteer on trails – the most important thing you need to bring is a positive attitude and a good amount of energy! Here are some more tips for getting ready to go out and volunteer.
The first step to volunteering is thinking about what you want to do. Do you want to help out on local trails or get out in the deep woods? Do you want a regular commitment or do you want to sign up for specific times when you have space in your schedule? Do you want to get down and dirty and build trails or would you prefer helping to educate fellow trail users about what to expect when out on the trail?
We describe many opportunities below, but if you would like more specific options, we recommend contacting the trail manager for your favorite trail. We list the trail manager with contact information at the bottom of every trail page on Maine Trail Finder.
We recommend starting small. Trail work can be very hard work! See what you like to do and grow your skills (and your commitments) from there
For most trail work, you will want to wear long pants and sturdy footwear like hiking or work boots. Depending on the season and what you are doing, you might also want a long sleeve shirt. If you are using tools, you will likely want work gloves, although the organization you are volunteering with may be able to supply those as well as any needed safety equipment like hard hats and safety glasses.
Many trail tools you will use will look familiar, like shovels and loppers, from yardwork or other outdoor jobs. There are more specific trailwork tools like pick mattocks and rock bars as well. Check out this guide for more specific information. Usually the trail organization will have tools for you to use. Check in before your work day to see if you should bring anything.
There are many opportunities to help out on Maine’s trails. We list many below, but there are certainly other organizations you can work with. Some, like the Bangor Land Trust, will even connect you with what you’d like to do using a brief form on their website. We know we can’t list them all here, but we do list them on each trail page. Pick your favorite trail and then email the trail manager to ask how you can help!
Many organizations offer work days on weekends or during the week. Visit our events calendar to see if there is an opportunity that works for your schedule. If not, you can check out one of the organizations below for a wide variety of opportunities across the state.
Saco Bay Trails offers Work/Walk parties every month from May through November.
Inland Woods + Trails has a fun Boulders, Berms and BBQ work party series scheduled throughout the summer.
The Royal River Conservation Trust organizes a trail crew that meets every Wednesday.
The Frenchman Bay Conservancy hosts volunteer work days throughout the summer.
Moosehead Trails hosts volunteer days at trails in the Moosehead Lake region.
Friends of Acadia runs drop-in volunteer days three days a week throughout the summer and fall.
The Maine Island Trail Association boats volunteers out to various islands for work days.
Many chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association host volunteer days building and maintaining mountain bike trails across the state.
For remote trails, sometimes it makes the most sense to get a group together and camp out to steward trails. Both the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club offer volunteer work trips in Maine (among many other volunteer opportunities). Check them out!
The Maine Appalachian Trail Club runs the Maine Trail Crew with volunteers on remote sections of the Appalachian Trail in Maine.
The Appalachian Mountain Club hosts multi-day work trips at the trail and lodge system near Greenville.
If you are more interested in a long-term commitment to a particular trail, or if you prefer getting out and volunteering by yourself or with a partner, there are many organizations who offer the opportunity to adopt a trail or a trail section. Usually, trail adopters or maintainers visit their trail section at least a couple times a year. Check out some of the opportunities below.
Among other volunteer opportunities, Baxter State Park offers trail adoption throughout the Park.
Volunteers can adopt trail sections or campsites along the Appalachian Trail through the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.
Portland Trails offers trail adoption throughout the Portland area.
The Downeast Lakes Land Trust adopts trails across their region to volunteers as well.
If you are interested in going all in, Acadia National Park also offers some interesting volunteer opportunities for the whole summer season. Find out more!
If you are interested in what happens behind-the-scenes to make trails possible in Maine, you can volunteer with conservation commissions, or land trusts in your area. Many have stewardship committees that help guide and plan trailwork as well as land management for the organization. Contact your local land trust if you are interested in learning more.
Not interested in trailwork, but want to help? Getting dirty and building or clearing trails is only one aspect of trail management. There are also opportunities to help steward trails in less muddy ways.
Trail Ambassadors help educate trail users on what to expect out on the trails. If you like chatting with folks and helping them feel comfortable, safe and confident outside, this could be the right fit for you. Learn more from the organizations below.
Loon Echo Land Trust has an ambassador program for their trails in western Maine.
The Eastern Trail Alliance recruits volunteers to communicate with bikers and walkers along the Eastern Trail.
Volunteers can talk with people who visit Mt. Agamenticus.
Maine Huts and Trails supports volunteer ambassadors at their huts in the Carrabassett region.
Many groups in Maine also support various scientific initiatives that help trail and land managers make better decisions. If you have a scientific mind, check out the organizations below to find out more.
The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust runs an Observe the Estuary program for community scientists.
Volunteers at the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge lead tours and staff the nature store, among other opportunities.
There are multiple community science opportunities with Maine Audubon including the annual loon count
Even if you aren't part of a volunteer work day, we all still have a chance to help steward Maine’s trails. Whenever you are out on the trail...
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