Volunteer Guide 2022

Every year hundreds of people like you volunteer to keep the PNT in shape

Maintaining the 1,200 mile trail system is a big job and its season is short. It takes dedicated teams of professional, student, and volunteer crews, coordinated by the PNTA, to prepare the trail for visitors each summer.

That work wouldn’t be possible without volunteers like you! Each season PNTA hosts dozens of events that range from front country projects that last only a few hours, to week-long backpacking trips into remote wilderness areas.

Whether you’re new to trail work or a seasoned volunteer, you’re invited! Our staff will be with you and your crew every step of the way to ensure you have fun and stay safe while making meaningful contributions to the trail.

Ways to Get Involved

Trail Work Parties

2 or more hours (plus travel time)

Volunteer trail work parties offer something for everyone. These events are ideal for new volunteers or those who are able to help out for one day or less. Most projects are located in frontcountry work sites within a short drive from a trailside community.

Drop-in Work Parties

2 or more hours (plus travel time)

Drop-in work parties give experienced volunteers an opportunity to work alongside PNTA Performance Trail Crews on intermediate or difficult projects. These work parties are usually time-flexible for volunteers, who can arrange to join our crews for only a few hours, or to camp out and volunteer for a few days.

Backcountry Trips

2 or more days (plus travel time)

These overnight trail work parties provide opportunities for backcountry camping on the trail for one or more nights. Volunteers will need backpacking skills and equipment, and be able to hike long distances to help us service hard-to-reach parts of the trail in more remote backcountry areas.

Best Events for New Volunteers

If you like being outdoors and using trails, chances are you’ll love working on them too. 

Beginners are welcome at almost all of our events — yes, really! Our staff and seasoned volunteers love to see fresh faces at the trailhead, because they represent the next generation of trail stewards. 

We love working with folks at every skill level and provide hands-on training and protective equipment so that everyone can work safely, have fun and feel good about what they accomplish. 

If you enjoy hiking to scenic spots on the PNT while carrying a loaded backpack, becoming a pack support volunteer is a great way to get involved, even if you only have a few hours to spare.

Pack support volunteers help move tools and supplies from the trailhead to PNTA trail crews working in the backcountry. Volunteers will load their packs with supplies and hike from the Park Butte Trailhead to our crew’s “spike camp,” at Mazama Park along the incredibly scenic Park Butte Trail. With your help, our trail crew will be able to stay in the backcountry longer and direct more of their time and energy towards trail work.

Bonus Side Trip

After the event, volunteers are welcome to hike to the Park Butte Lookout, just 0.8 miles from the Park Butte Trail, the historic lookout perched atop Park Butte gives magnificent views of Mt Baker.

Learn more

Volunteer with the PNTA as we log out a shady forested section of trail from Baker Hot Springs to Park Creek/Swift Creek Campgrounds on scenic Baker Lake!

Volunteers will team up with a PNTA crew leader to clear the trail of downed trees. Crew leaders and other Region 6 USFS Certified Sawyers will use chainsaws to buck trees and volunteers will “swamp” by removing cut branches and logs from the trail. Volunteers may also have the chance to use crosscut saws, hand saws and hand tools to clear fallen trees and branches from the PNT. For folks interested in learning about other aspects of trails work, we may also work on the tread near the crossing of Morovitz Creek at this trail work party.

Camping is not included with this event but may be available at several campgrounds along the cool shores of Baker Lake, including the Park Creek Campground where we will rendezvous for the trail work party.

Register Today!

Spend some of the last days of summer helping PNAT restore the Kettle Crest Trail system. Three PNTA trail crews will be working together to maintain a section of the Kettle Crest, restore the Leona Loop TR 049.1, and touch up PNT feeder trails Leona TR 049 and Ryan Cabin TR 030. Drop-in volunteers are needed to help us get the job done.

The Leona Loop trail has disappeared under revegetation since the 2015 Stickpin Fire.  Help the PNTA restore this delightful day-trip loop adventure in the Kettle Range.

Two teams will disperse camp at Leona trailhead on the western slopes, and a third will camp at Stickpin-Ryan trailheads on the eastern slopes.

One team will work northbound on Leona Loop from Leona Trail.  A second group will maintain the PNT on Kettle Crest as they make their way to the northern junction of the circuit, then begin restoring Leona Loop southbound.  The third party will maintain the PNT Kettle Crest southbound from Ryan Cabin, before tying in with the southbound Loop party for one last push to restore the corridor.

“Swampers” will help clear a path through the brush by following behind sawyers to roll log rounds and toss branches off the trail. We’ll also use loppers or handsaws to trim back brush, saplings and branches growing in the trail, and dirt work tools to restore the tread and drains along the way.

No trail crew experience necessary: the PNTA provides tools, personal protective equipment, and training. Just bring yourself, your daypack, and a thirst for a rewarding day on the trail!

Learn more

The North Cascades Region

The PNT climbs to dramatic vistas as it works against the grain of the steep Cascade Mountains. Here, the trail spans the rainshadow of the Cascades, wending across the Cascade Crest, from the dry Pasayten Wilderness, to the lush temperate rainforests west of the massive range.

Known to some as the “American Alps,” a seemingly endless horizon of majestic peaks define this breathtaking landscape. At lower elevations, the trail explores ancient forests along river valleys. At higher altitudes, heather meadows surround postcard perfect alpine lakes.

Portions of the Pacific Northwest Trail remain snowbound for most of the year in this region. Higher elevations in the North Cascades are prone to world-record setting snowfall. 

How You Can Help

In temperate rainforests, like those found in the Cascades, the PNT needs annual maintenance to stay protected from nature’s toll. One of the biggest priorities in this area is logging out hundreds of trees that fall across the PNT each year.

Protecting our natural resources is another important aspect of our work in this region. Building crossing structures can spare fragile alpine meadows from visitor use impacts. Maintaining the trail’s tread and drainage features protects the PNT from heavy rain and snowmelt which can damage the trail bed and cause erosion that can impact sensitive streams and other riparian habitat. 

With volunteers’ help, we can take advantage of the short weather-window to keep this majestic section of the Pacific Northwest Trail open and safe.

Ancient Forests

Northeast Washington Region

Spanning between the Washington-Idaho border and the Okanogan, this undiscovered region of the Pacific Northwest Trail explores a diversity of environments. From lush temperate rainforests, to rolling grasslands, subalpine meadows, pine forests, granite gardens and volcanic rock cliffs, this 200-mile stretch of the PNT boasts an extraordinary amount of variety and natural beauty.

Visiting this remote corner of Washington can make for an unforgettable visit. Its wild, uncrowded character and scenic beauty make it worth the trip. These remote landscapes offer quiet, star-filled nights and some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities found on the PNT.

How You Can Help

The trail’s maintenance needs vary across the region too. Trail work parties in this area offer something for nearly anyone who is interested in the many facets of trail stewardship.

With your help, we can make the most of our short season in this special place and keep the Pacific Northwest Trail open for everyone to enjoy!

In temperate rainforests, like those found in the Selkirk Mountains, the PNT needs annual maintenance to stay protected from nature’s toll. One of the biggest priorities in this area is logging out hundreds of trees that fall across the PNT each year. Regular tread and drainage work is also important because it helps shield the trail from damage caused by heavy annual rainfall, and helps protect our natural resources.

Volunteer Work Parties

Most work parties in this region are great for beginners and for volunteers that have only a few hours to contribute. The most challenging and rewarding part of servicing this region of the PNT is getting there. Some worksites take a few hours of hardy PNW hiking to reach. 

Backcountry Trips

Because of its great length, servicing the PNT in remote areas in the Selkirk Mountains requires a bigger time commitment. Our Backcountry Trip Work Parties are ideal for volunteers with prior backpacking experience that enjoy hiking long distances and spending a few days camping out on the trail with their crew.

Drop-In Work Parties

Our Drop-in Work Parties give experienced volunteers an opportunity to work alongside PNTA Performance Trail Crews on intermediate or difficult projects. These work parties are usually time-flexible for volunteers, who can arrange to join our crews for the day, or for a multi-day adventure.

Abercrombie Mountain

Okanogan Highlands Region

Surrounding the midpoint of the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Okanogan Highlands defy visitors’ expectations of the Northwest with an arid climate that nears desert conditions. 

Stretching roughly between the Okanogan and Kettle Rivers, this complex high country landscape is characterized by rolling parklands, large rounded mountains (up to 8,000 feet tall) and deep narrow valleys. 

Wide open spaces in the Highlands add to the diversity of environments found along the PNT as do fragrant sagebrush shrub-steppes, sweeping grasslands, marshy aspen groves, and shady forests of pine, fir, larch and spruce.

How You Can Help

New Tread — Exciting progress has been made in recent years to realign sections of the PNT in the Okanogan. Moving sections of trail from open roads to trails and other non-motorized routes in this area is among the PNTA’s foremost goals.

Brushing — In the Okanogan, the PNTneeds regular maintenance to stay in good condition. Aromatic sage brush and other woody plants can thrive in this sunny climate and will overtake exposed sections of trail without regular brushing. 

Logout — The ponderosa pine forests that characterize the area can reach towering heights. In recent years, severe storms have caused considerable damage in a short amount of time in places like Clackamas Mountain. Volunteer sawyers and swampers can help by joining work parties to keep forested trails clear of downed trees. 

 In 2022, lucky volunteers may be able to join work parties around Swan Lake, Corner Butte and Cougar Creek to help improve the route of the PNT in the Highlands.

Bonaparte Lake

Pasayten Wilderness Region

With 150 miles between resupply points in Oroville and Ross Lake, the Pasayten Wilderness is the longest roadless section of the Pacific Northwest Trail. For 95 unforgettable miles, the PNT traverses the untrammeled heart of the designated wilderness area. The outstanding scenery and immersive experience it provides places the Pasayten Wilderness near the top of every backpacker’s life list.

Yet, the qualities that make this part of the PNT so special also make it a real adventure for volunteers and trail crews to access and work in.

Many worksites in this remote, roadless area take one full day of hiking to reach. This makes them best suited for multi-day backcountry trip volunteer events. These work parties are ideal for volunteers with prior backpacking experience that enjoy hiking long distances and camping out on the trail with their crew.

How You Can Help

Every season, there is a lot of work to do in the Pasayten Wilderness and only a short time to get the job done. 

Logout — The first priority is logging out hundreds of trees that fall across the PNT each year. Volunteers and Performance Trail Crews will spend the summer clearing the trail the old fashioned way using crosscut saws and other muscle-powered hand tools as wilderness regulations require.

Pack SupportWhether they’re carrying a backpack or leading a pack string of stock animals, pack support volunteers help move tools and supplies in and out of our backcountry “spike camps” so crews can direct more of their energy towards trail work. 

With your help, we can make the most of our short season in this special place and keep the Pacific Northwest Trail open for everyone to enjoy.