Maintainer's Best Practices


  • Take care of a trail so that others can enjoy their visit
  • Have taken Introduction to Trail Maintenace (aka TM101)
  • Have walked their trail with their supervisor and know how to ask for help

Practice Safety First

  • Say "NO" and walk away from any situation you determine to be an unacceptable risk and promptly notify your supervisor if it is a safety hazard to the general public.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Read the Outdoor Activity Safety Guidelines
  • Take personal protection equipment
    • Gloves
    • Eye protection - required for all maintenance activities
    • Ear protection - if you are running power equipment (power trimmers are allowed but not chainsaws unless you are currently certified).
    • Hard hat - especially if you are cutting or moving downed trees or branches
    • First aid kit
  • Sharp tools: sharp tools are safer
  • Begin every trip with a brief safety reminder; do it for yourself and if you are going out alone, let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Know the location of the nearest emergency care facility relative to where you are working.
  • Stop when you are tired.

Plan your trip

  • Plan what you expect to do on a trip so you have the right tools with you.
  • Make at least one trip after major storms and in the spring after leaf-out
  • Plan separate trips for different chores, e.g. blazing, vegetation control, erosion control.
  • Take along a small notebook to record what you did, what needs doing on your next trip, or what you need help with.
  • Take a camera to record problems that need expert help, e.g. blowdowns.
  • Make a copy of the map of your section so you can mark where problems are.
  • Know who the adjacent trail maintainers are and for AT maintainrs, know who is the monitor of your section
  • If you have a co-aligned trail, know who the maintainer is and what arrangements have been made.
  • If you are maintaining in NYS Parks, and if others are helping you on this trip, bring Volunteer Service Agreements (VSA) for them to sign. For NYS DEC you need a different VSA.

Working on Your Trail

  • Visit your trail at least once in each reporting period, more often it there are sunny areas with lots of understory
  • Reverse direction of travel to inspect both ways
  • Clip and toss to the side any encroaching vegetation
  • Clear waterbars and their outflow
  • Clear leaf debris from steps and board walks
  • Blaze with another person


  • Write in a notebook and take pictures of what you did. Then fill out your maintainer report form when you return home while you still remember exactly what you did.
  • Let your supervisor know immediately if you have items requiring immediate attention such removing a large blowdown.
  • If injured, report it immediately to your supervisor
  • Turn in any VSAs of your helpers at the park office, if applicable.
  • Send in the report before the due date