Sean Jansen

Ten Reasons Why Everyone Should do Trail Work


Sean Jansen


Giving Back


Giving is a sensation that many feel deep within the soul. Whether it be Christmas, a birthday, or just a random gift, that sensation makes us feel good. And putting in a few hours on trail will do the same. Clearing brush, removing rocks, or spreading knowledge, giving back to trails that we all play on share a role that make the trails what they are for all of us to enjoy for a while.




It is overwhelming when you begin to learn just how much effort it takes to keep our trails in order. Hours of hard labor is unforeseen when trail running, hiking, horseback riding, or backpacking. But like myself, after hours of play on trail the efforts of trail work make our adventures that much more enjoyable.




The parameters with what makes a trail a trail are astounding. Why they are built where they are built can often be defined by a near science. Learning how and why a trail is what it is may be the most important thing learned while doing the work.


Hidden Factors


A trail is far more than just a dirt pathway leading to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you seek. That dirt took years of shaping by man, nature and weather to look the way it does. Just one of the many levels of hide and seek that trail work uncovers.




For many of us, trails are shared with friends or family. And that same shared passion gets extended to volunteer trail work with like minded individuals such as yourself. Friends of all ages can be met with the same passion of giving back to trails all of us love and play on.




I hear it day in and day out that people are unhappy about how much time they spend indoors. Trail work is outside! All day and everyday. Experiencing all climate and terrain that Montana has to offer.


No Gym Necessary


Long story short, trail work is a workout. Not only do you log in miles like you would on a long hike or backpacking trip, but you also lug around hand tools, saw, loppers, and all essentials needed for yourself in order to get the necessary work done. Through the occasional blood followed by definite sweat and possibly a few tears, are the backbone of trails and that just might be the bigger picture that this line of work gets across.




In Montana, we are blessed with literally thousands of trails and thousands of miles of them. But with that being said, it is impossible to see all of them in a lifetime. But through trail work, you have the opportunity to not only see new trails, but to also see some you know of in a new light. Through hours of hard gratifying work that mother nature threw aside during her wrath in storms.




Simply put, one can never stop learning. Whether it is the use of a new tool, the name of a flower alongside the trail, or a fun fact from a fellow volunteer, trail work is an eye opening experience that can indeed open doors to many things physically, mentally, and spiritually as well.




The feeling of satisfaction is a wonderful sensation at the end of a hard days work. However the graciousness you receive from recreationalists that see your hard work on trail is the icing on the cake. Everyone I’ve encountered never walked by without expressing their gratitude for the work. A simple shot of joy and newfound energy to get you swinging that pick ace and pulling those weeds.


How to Get Involved


There are numerous areas where one can find info and seek the volunteer project of your likings. However, right off the bat, the Montana Wilderness Association or MWA is the greatest source with regards to projects in our backyard. They live the ethos of trail work and are stewards of our precious public lands. They not only fight for them with pick and axe but also politically throughout the state. But as stewards, they also work side by side with the Continental Divide Trail Association, Montana Fish and Wildlife, Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Association, Yellowstone Forever, Montana Trout Unlimited, The National and State Parks Systems, and many more organizations. Google your area, passions, and concerns and I can promise there is an organization either working towards or are in the thought process to pull the trigger on a thought you have. Be the voice and act the act as the protection and preservation of our lands are needed now more than ever.




Montana Wilderness Association

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Association

Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Yellowstone Forever

Montana Fish and Wildlife