Vermont parks seek trail crew volunteers

The unofficial start to summer is nearly here, and while Vermont state parks are open some could use a little help.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:42 AM EDT
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WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - The unofficial start to summer is nearly here, and while Vermont state parks are open, some trails could use a little help.

Little River State Park in Waterbury is known for its camping and water recreation.

Camp Smith’s trailhead is one of the dozens of locations making up 43 miles In Orange, Washington and Lamoille counties where the state is hoping to have more eyes on the trails.

“If you strung it all together, the trail would go from the top of Vermont to the bottom of Vermont, so it’s overwhelming. Like if we weren’t able to divide that up and have eyes on all of it, we just wouldn’t be able to maintain it to a good standard,” said Walter Opuszynski with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Opuszynski said at Little River State Park, for example, there are eight or so trails in the network. They like to have at least two volunteers assigned to maintain a trail. They’re seeking at least 40 additional maintainers to join the crew this year.

“We don’t have partner organizations like the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, Green Mountain Club, VMBA, so we have more of a responsibility for those. Volunteers go out, check out on the trail, report back and we can prioritize our approach to addressing the issues,” said Opuszynski.

He notes that with more people heading out on the trails, combined with more storms, it takes more work to keep them up to snuff.

So what does a trail maintainer do and what impact do they have on the Green Mountain State’s outdoor recreation?

“Maintaining, trimming branches that have grown out into the trail. We would like people to focus on blazing, which is creating unique markings to keep people on the tread,” said Jesse Hoover, FPR’s trail coordinator.

Hoover says maintainers go out once in the fall and the spring and help prioritize needed work. He notes that the volunteers don’t need much previous trail experience to participate.

“We’d like people to maintain erosion control devices -- trail structure that guides water off of the trail -- it’s very important,” Hoover said.

National Trails Day is next Saturday and FPR will kick off the maintenance program at Elmore State Park with observing and reporting techniques. Interested individuals should contact Jesse Hoover at