• Botany • Construction/Maintenance • Conservation Education • Minerals/Geology • Other • Soil/Watershed • Timber/Fire Prevention • Trail/Campground Maintenance • Visitor Information • Natural Resources Planning • Science • Back Country/Wilderness • General Assistance • Weed/Invasive Species Control
Photo Courtesy of NPS
This program is a self-guided opportunity for hikers of all ages, group sizes, and experience levels to explore Voyageurs National Park while keeping its trails open, safe, and in good repair for all visitors. We are thrilled to have you join our team!
How do Trail Adopter Volunteers make a difference?
Adopt-A-Trail volunteers help improve safety and prevent long-term deterioration on trails. By performing smaller-scale maintenance, you help prevent trail blockages that would normally build up over time. By extension, you also reduce the overall number of large-scale maintenance operations that require time, supervision, and more complex safety precautions for large teams and heavy equipment in Voyageurs. In addition, you benefit park resources and other visitors by removing litter from trails and reporting any major maintenance that requires the support of trained staff.
To be a Trail Adopter
1) Apply online at www.volunteer.gov or ask to sign up at any Voyageurs visitor center. You will be contacted within 10 days to discuss the trail(s) you are interested in adopting, and the dates you plan to hike.
2) On or before the day of your hike, check out a Volunteer Trail Adopter backpack at a visitor center and fill out a VIP Group Signup Sheet. Every member of your group must sign a space, including youth (parents or legal guardians must sign for volunteers under age 18). Review with the staff at the desk:
Where you will be hiking and when
When you expect to return
If you plan to hike until after the visitor center closes, arrange a time within the next day to drop off your trail reports and backpack.
Provide staff at desk with your VIP Group Signup Sheet.
Note: If you are unable to stop in at a visitor center, you can either call and/or email the information above to ranger Miranda Challeen, Volunteer Coordinator.
3) Hike your trail(s)! As you explore:
Fill out a Trail Report sheet for each trail (located in the Adopt-A-Trail binder). Maps are included in the binder for navigation, and to mark areas that need attention.
Pick up and bag litter
Clear trail of small debris, branches, and encroaching vegetation
Inspect the condition of trail and trail signs
Inspect boardwalks and bridges for broken or loose boards
Inspect for areas of erosion and whether a drainage device has failed
Check for and report on flooded trail segments
Remove fallen branches or trees that are 6-inch diameter or less
Contact a visitor center or the Volunteer Coordinator if any safety concerns or similar issues (e.g. slips, tick bites) occur, and—once able to safely do so—make a detailed summary of what happened in your Trail Report.
4) When finished, check in at any visitor center.
Submit your completed Trail Report(s) for each trail hiked.
Return the Trail Adopter backpack
Visitor center staff will share your trail reports with our maintenance crews, and keep track of your hours and number of trails adopted.
Incentives and Benefits
There is something priceless about improving and maintaining trails in your national parks for the benefit of others. In addition to the very meaningful benefits inherent in volunteering, there are also more tangible incentives that Trail Adopters can receive through the Volunteer Program.
Trail Adopters can earn volunteer hours, pins, patches, hiking staffs, an honorary mention on the park’s website, and even a free Volunteer Annual Pass to the National Parks. See details in the Adopt-A-Trail binder.
Trail Adopters may submit personal photos taken on the trail to Voyageurs National Park for use in printed media, website content, and social media postings. Photos submitted will be entered into a bi-annual Voyageurs Photo Contest. Interested Trail Adopters should contact the Volunteer Coordinator and submit a Photo Release Form (located in the Adopt-A-Trail backpack) for each person photographed, plus one Photo Donation form.
Hike to Health
Trail Adopters may simultaneously earn additional incentives—including an honorable mention on the park’s website, commemorative stickers, posters, and water bottles—through the park’s Hike to Health program. Ask staff at any visitor center desk to sign up.
Your safety comes first! To keep you and your group safe, volunteers must agree to the following:
One person age 18 or older must be designated as the group leader.
All volunteers must sign and submit a Volunteer Agreement form before beginning their duties as Trail Adopters.
Complete and submit a Trail Report form within 24 hours after each trail work day.
Do not pick up any hazardous material or unreasonably heavy or large branches over six inches in diameter; document these in your Trail Report instead.
Limit work to the designated trail; do not reroute or modify trails.
Power tools and machinery are not permitted.
Volunteers are responsible for providing their own water, closed-toe shoes, and transportation to/from their trail. Closed-toed shoes must be worn; work boots are recommended.
After hiking, check your clothing and body to prevent tick bites.
Wear gloves and safety goggles if using hand tools. When carrying tools, always use a blade guard and point tools towards the ground (on the downside slope if you are hiking on an incline). Never direct a tool blade towards yourself when cutting branches, and keep your free hand at least a foot away from the cutting area. Hand tools to be used only by volunteers age 16 and up.