By Vincent A. Perez
Hello, everyone. I’m a Park Ranger over at South Mountain Park. I just wanted to tell you about my amazing experience learning from the Trail Boss Class. I highly recommend taking this class for anyone who wants to learn about trail maintenance or looking to become a park steward and give back to the mountain and community. It is an exciting opportunity to learn from the trail boss – who is also a Park Ranger – about the importance of maintaining a trail and how it can affect the mountain. But not only that, the class also provides care and safety for our community when they come out to hike, run or bike.
You start out the day by arriving to the class where you have a meet & greet with park rangers and other members. The trail boss would then do a 30-minute presentation on trail maintenance which includes important information regarding the use of tools, trail maintenance terminology, safety hazards, invasive plants, mitigation on trails and maintaining the tread on trails. You then go outside and are given certain tools that you need when working on the trails. After you grab your tools, you visit what is known as the “nature trail” for a mile-long hike. Be sure to bring water, sunscreen, boots and the appropriate clothing to work on a trail!
Once you’re on the trail, you are shown how to use the tools and will see the areas that need improvement. Plus, they’ll help you understand things to watch for on the trail such as berms, drainage, tread, safety hazards and other trail terminology. Once you’re on the trail boss will show you important techniques and tricks of how to use the tools. Some of those techniques include the proper way to handle tools, being able to work smarter (not harder) and how to conserve energy while avoiding injury.
Once you are done learning the basics of maintaining trails, you walk back to the ranger office and finish asking any questions. The class was a great experience and I will be attending more classes to expand the knowledge and passion I have for working outdoors. As a former marathon runner, we appreciate trails that are maintained; it makes a big difference!
Don’t worry; you don’t have to be an expert to know all the terms and knowledge of trail maintenance – it will come in time. It takes practice getting to know these things. Taking this class is the perfect way to give back to your community. Not only that, you’re able to branch out, try new things and gain more skills that can help you at home.