Frequently Asked Questions about Trail Work Parties
WTA crews welcome anyone interested in helping keep trails open, no matter your familiarity with trail work. But we know you might have a lot of questions when you're volunteering for your first time. See if we can answer them below.
How much experience do I need?
None. We work hard to teach our volunteers the joy of trail maintenance. We hope by investing our time in teaching you trail maintenance you'll come back and join us again. Our work party rules are followed in this order:
1) Be safe!
2) Have fun!
3) Get some work done!
How do I sign up to volunteer?
Use the tabs on the Find a Work Party page to search the list, map or calendar. The search filters on the left side of the screen (at the top on a mobile device) allow you to sort work parties by region, type or date.
Click on any work party name to see details about what to expect. Use the Join Work Party button to complete the short registration form. You're all signed up!
May I arrive late? Leave early?
We ask that you commit to the entire length of a work party when you sign up. They start promptly at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
We request this because after a short orientation at the trailhead in the morning, the crew hikes to the project, meaning you will be unable to meet the crew at the trailhead if you arrive late.
Occasionally, we do have work parties that are shorter than the standard day, which may work better with your availability.
What should I wear? What should I bring?
All volunteers should wear a sturdy pair of boots (no tennis shoes!), long pants and work gloves. It's recommended that you wear a long-sleeve shirt and eye protection (such as glasses, sunglasses or safety glasses) too.
In addition, bring rain gear (including a pack cover - a large trash bag works fine for this), extra warm clothing, water and your lunch and snacks in a pack. If it's wintertime, check out these additional tips on how to dress for a winter work party.
We will provide you with a WTA hard hat and the tools you need.
DO WE GET BREAKS?LUNCH?
We have two official breaks, a morning candy break (candy provided by WTA!) and a mid-day lunch break. Please bring your own lunch, beverages, and any additional snacks you need to keep you powered for a day of trail work. Additionally, we encourage all volunteers to take any additional breaks they need throughout the day and to work at a pace that suits them.
What is the bathroom Situation?
The areas we work in often do not have flush toilets available nearby. If there is a toilet at the trailhead it may not necessarily have running water.
At the project and at trailheads without toilet facilities, the crew relieves ourselves in the surrounding environment according to leave no trace guidelines. You'll want to have toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you.
Do I need to pay for a parking permit?
Nope! WTA will provide all volunteers with a day pass. In fact, you can even earn free passes by volunteering with us. Learn more about the benefits of volunteering.
What is the latest date that I can sign up for a day work party?
48 hours. Each work party is automatically removed from the schedule 48 hours before the work party is scheduled to begin. This allows our crew leaders to have adequate time to pick up tools, purchase pop and cookies and prepare for the project based on the number of sign-ups at that time. If you would like to sign up for a work party within this 48 hours, please call us at 206.625.1367 and we will determine if we can add another person to that particular work party.
How do I sign the liability waiver?
Your work party registration email includes a link to the annual waiver. You will also receive reminders with links prior to your work party date. The annual waiver needs to be completed yearly.
Who will I be volunteering with?
We welcome volunteers from a broad range of backgrounds, and people often make friends with other crew members over the course of the day.
Plus, our skilled crew leaders are first aid and CPR certified and have undergone leadership training to ensure you have a safe and fun day on trail with us.
Are there any perks (incentives) for volunteering?
Does WTA encourage or try to arrange carpooling?
Yes! We have an automated online carpool system. When you join a work party you can opt into carpooling by indicating if you want to drive, ride, or are fine with either. Then you give a brief description of a convenient meeting point in the space provided (not in the comments section).
This information will be sent to anyone who signs up for your trip, along with your email address so carpoolers can directly contact each other. Remember, if you are a rider, please be courteous and offer to chip in on the cost of gas! More tips for a great carpooling experience here.
Can I bring my kids on a day work party?
To participate in a WTA work party, youth must be age 10 or older. Each member of your party needs to be registered separately, including your child. Please print out an additional copy of the annual waiver; both youth and guardian should sign and bring to trailhead on the day of the work party. If your kid likes it, there are WTA's youth programs you might look into.
Do you still work in bad weather?
Yes - we do work rain or shine! However, there are rare occasions when we will cancel a work party due to inclement weather. The most common weather cancellations are due to wind, snow/ice and lightning. Most determinations are made at the trailhead at the beginning of the day by the crew leader or on the trail as conditions change. You will be notified by email or phone in the rare event that we cancel a work party the night before due to a forecast of extreme weather.
If weather conditions forecast for the work party are beyond your personal comfort level you are free to cancel from the work party.
WHat if I realize I can't make it to a work party?
If you realize you won't be able to do a work party, please cancel so that another volunteer can have a chance to participate. Simply no-showing makes it harder for the crew to complete the project, since we customize our work based on how many volunteers we anticipate having.
To cancel out of a work party, log into your My Backpack account, or use the cancellation link in the registration email you received. If neither option is available please email firstname.lastname@example.org to cancel your registration.
Can I bring my pets?
Please do not bring any pets. We have found that pets can be a significant distraction and in some rare cases a safety hazard.
Can I bring a big group?
Yes. All participants must be individually registered. If your group is greater than six people we request that you submit a group work party request.
DO You PROVIDE VOLUNTEER HOURS CONFIRMATION FOR YOUTH OR CORPORATE MATCH PROGRAMS?
Yes, please email your requests to email@example.com. It can take approximately 1 week to process your request.
Do you accept court-ordered community service?
Usually. But you must confirm with your court that they accept WTA volunteer hours and tell us in advance of your work party so that we can help you appropriately track and confirm your hours for the court.
When you sign up for your work party, indicate that you are fulfilling court-ordered hours and give the total amount of hours you wish to complete. The maximum amount of hours you can claim for a day work party 8 hours. If you need a letter documenting your service, please complete your service hours and request the letter at least two weeks before your deadline.
We do not accept court-ordered hours for violent or aggressive offenses.
Should I bring my own tools?
No. WTA provides all the tools you need. The only tools you might consider bringing would be hand clippers or small folding saws. Please do NOT bring your own axes, machetes, etc. Our safety briefing at the beginning of each work party includes a comprehensive discussion of the safe usage of each tool. We cannot permit anyone to bring and use a tool not covered in our safety lecture.
Can I bring my chainsaw?
No. A special certification is required from land management agencies before anyone is allowed to use a chainsaw on their land. Any logging out or felling of trees with a chainsaw will be taken care of by WTA staff or the land manager's hired personnel.
What is WTA's policy on firearms and weapons?
Volunteers are not allowed to bring firearms or weapons on a work party (regardless of whether they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.)
What else do I need to I know?
For questions specific to backcountry trips, check out our pages about volunteer vacations, backcountry response teams or youth volunteer vacations. We also have packing facility work parties, which support the backcountry trips.
If you have a question that we haven’t answered, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.625.1367
Annual Northwest Forest Pass incentive
I have earned two (green) one-day passes. How do I exchange them for an annual pass?
When you come out on a WTA work party that is on Forest Service land (indicated in the schedule under the column titled “Free Pass”), the Forest Service recognizes your efforts by giving you a free one-day recreation pass. A WTA crew leader will give you this pass at the beginning of the work party. When you collect two of these green day passes, you can mail them to WTA and we will mail you one Annual Northwest Forest Pass. Please send your two green day passes and a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Washington Trails Association, 705 2nd Ave Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104. Each volunteer can receive a maximum of one annual pass per year.
Annual Discover Pass incentive
I have received vouchers for 24 hours worked on state lands. How do I exchange them for an annual pass?
To learn how you can exchange your vouchers for an annual pass (as well as exclusions), visit the Discover Pass website. The intent of the program is for volunteers to receive a maximum of one pass per year.