Saturday, February 04, 2023

Volunteer trail projects include one in the southern Cabinets

by The Western News
| March 10, 2020 11:29 AM

The Montana Wilderness Association plans to host two volunteer trail maintenance projects this summer in northwest Montana, including one in the southern Cabinet Mountains and one in the Swan Range.

The Cabinet Mountains project, occurring in partnership with the Cabinet Back Country Horsemen, will be June 4 – 7.

The crew will log out deadfall on trails near the Fisher River. Each day, the crew will clear the trail until reaching the snowpack, then hike back down, shuttle to the next trail and do it all over again.

On the way, crews will perform spot repairs like re-treading the trail, brushing the corridor and clearing drainage structures. At night, the crew will car camp at the Oscar Miller Camping Area.

The Cabinet Mountains and Swan Range projects are part of the Montana Wilderness Association’s 2020 Volunteer Trail Crew program. The association said the program provides an opportunity to explore new places while giving back to the wild landscapes valued by residents and non-residents alike.

“Heading out on a hitch with our Volunteer Trail Crew is such a rewarding experience that people come back from across the country year after year,” said Sonny Mazzullo, MWA’s stewardship coordinator. “It’s always inspiring to see the commitment that regular folks have to our public lands, and to see the lifelong friendships that form over just a few days.”

“A frontcountry project like the Cabinets is a great choice for a first-time volunteer,” said Mazzullo. “It’s in a gorgeous place, near the Fisher River, and we’ll be doing a variety of trail tasks like clearing, brushing and spot re-tread, so volunteers will get a good feel for what goes into keeping a multi-use trail in great shape.”

The second project will take place near Clayton Lake in the Swan Range’s Jewel Basin from September 3 – 6. This trip will take place entirely in the backcountry, and the crew will carry in all gear, food and tools for the weekend. Participants will be brushing the trail corridor, installing drainage features and performing spot retread near the crew’s base camp. The association said the work is an important part of maintaining the Jewel Basin’s world-class network of hiking trails.

“The Clayton Lake project is a big one,” said Mazzullo. “Without stock support, we have to haul all our own gear, but being up in the Jewel Basin is worth it. It’s such a beautiful spot, and the trail up there is heavily used, so our work is really appreciated by the Forest Service.”

All Volunteer Trail Crew trips are free and open to the public, but spots fill up fast. For more details or to register, go to and click on “Southern Cabinets” or “Clayton Lake” to learn more.