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Vountourism Spotlight: Trail Rehab in The Great Smoky Mountains

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Fall is one of the best times of year to check out our national parks, when the weather is still fine but the crowds have gone home.  Better yet, this is the time to help repair some of the summer wear and tear. This week’s Voluntourism Spotlight shows you how to volunteer for a day or even a week with Trails Forever, a partnership program between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Friends of the Smokies.  Check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities and tune into Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio this weekend for more information.

Head to the Smokies this fall and get your hands dirty working alongside professional trail workers to make lasting and important improvements to trails throughout the park. Projects are still underway until late fall 2012!

Trails Forever focuses on sustainable trail improvement maintenance and trail rehabilitation work. Volunteers help re-define sections of trail that have become unsafe or unwalkable, improve drainage structures, build staircases, work to prevent further erosion and naturalize  trails to prevent resource damage. The program focuses on high use and high priority trails in the Park.  The results of the “sweat equity” that volunteers provide are tangible and people can see the concrete difference they are making to preserve the trails for future generations.

Sounds great, but can I do this?

Image Credit:  Christine HoyerAccording to Christine Hoyer, Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator, the people that volunteer for Trails Forever range from single individuals to friends who volunteer together, families, local park enthusiasts, vacationers from around the country, as well as groups from local schools, hiking clubs, special interest groups (local companies and organizations), to college students on alternative spring and fall break service trips.

Jobs assignments vary depending on your level of experience, all Trails Forever volunteers must be able to hike at least 4 miles and safely perform strenuous and often difficult manual labor.

The primary project for the 2012 Trails Forever Crew is the Chimney Tops Trail, one of the most popular trails in the park because of its length and the spectacular views from the top. The project will stabilize and improve the trail conditions to protect the resources and enhance the visitor’s experience.

You can find out more information about all the Great Smoky National Parks programs and apply to be a volunteer here.

Happy Trails!

By Kari Adwell for

Image Credit:Christine Hoyer