Sue, Jim & Cody on the 14,433' summit of MT Elbert, CO - The highest peak in the Rocky Mountains


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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PREP # 18:  TRAIL MAINTENANCE       March 26
“(Volunteers) have asked for no return nor recognition nor reward. They have contributed to the project simply by reason of the pleasure found in trail-making and in the realization that they were, perhaps, creating something which would be a distinct contribution to the American recreational system and the training of the American people.”  -Myron H.  Avery, ATC chairman from 1931 to 1952

Attractive composting potty we helped build at Lambert Meadows shelter on the AT

Repairing bridges over rock slabs near McAfee Knob

I believe trail runners have an obligation to help maintain the trails they use.

Since volunteering for worthy causes was one of my family’s legacies even before I started running, it was simply a “given” that I would volunteer with the local running club and help maintain trails in the area (at that time, in the metro Atlanta area and north Georgia) when I started running in 1980.

Jim has always been an active trail and club volunteer, too. It’s a lot of work, but fun!

Sometimes eight hours of trail maintenance are required for us to run certain 100-milers. No problem – we’ve always had plenty of trails we could work on wherever we lived, and we help with their upkeep even when we don’t HAVE to.

Sometimes we’re out working when the local park administrators don’t even know it, moving or cutting out fallen trees and branches, pruning overgrown weeds and vines, or picking up trash on the trails before city or county workers are aware of problems or can send personnel to take care of them.

We have a vested interest in keeping the trails nice, after all.

It was mostly volunteers who designed, constructed, and marked the Appalachian Trail in the 1920s and 1930s. Hiking clubs united by Benton MacKaye (AT visionary) and new clubs joined together with the AT Conference, National Park Service, US Forest Service, fourteen state governments, and the CCC for the huge cooperative effort.

Think that could happen today???

The AT was officially opened in 1937 for all the world to enjoy, and millions of people have taken the opportunity to walk part or all of this one-of-a-kind park. It's a national treasure.

Volunteers have continued to play a pivotal role in maintaining the Trail and its numerous shelters, huts, and privies ever since. Most are involved with one of the 31 trail maintaining clubs that are responsible for specific sections of the Trail.




When we moved to Virginia last year, we joined the Roanoke AT Club (RATC). Our club is responsible for 117 miles of the AT and five miles of other trails in the area. Click on the round emblem at the left to access the club's website.


Although we haven’t joined in any of the RATC’s social or hiking events yet, we have helped construct a composting toilet at Lambert’s Meadow shelter, cut new trail, and repair wooden bridges over rock slabs on the way up to McAfee Knob.


It was strenuous work, but fulfilling. Whenever we run by these projects, we feel a sense of pride that we helped build them.


Jim and I are also involved with trail-building projects at Carvin’s Cove; help maintain trails at Explore Park, Chestnut Ridge, and Mill Mountain;  volunteer with the Star City Striders, Roanoke’s running club; and help as needed at the races we attend nearby and around the country.


We encourage other runners and their families to get involved in similar ways. With local, state, and national government funds decreasing for parks and trails, we’ve got to pick up some of the slack so natural areas will remain open for recreational use.

End of lecture!

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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© 2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil