Hitting The Ground Running...and Brushing!

Spring has finally come after what seemed like the world's longest, coldest, snowiest winter in Massachusetts. It was hard to believe that the busy field season was (relatively) right around the corner when there was still piles of snow up to our hips, but warm temperatures finally got rid of the last of it! Come April, it was time to hit the ground running to do the much needed basic maintenance on the Bay Circuit Trail after a harsh winter and quick spring bloom.

Spreading mulch
The first free Saturday work party of the season took place at Stanley Iron Works Park, part of the Nunckatessett Greenway in West Bridgewater, MA. This gem along the Bay Circuit hosted a group from Blue Cross Blue Shield last year that removed a section of poison-ivy covered fence, installed a new sign and benches, and made the park open and inviting. Seventeen volunteers joined us this year to continue the great work from 2014. Groups spread mulch and cleared vegetation along the open riverside area, stabilized old crib steps along a slope next to the dam, installed a 40 foot fence along a once-dangerous viewing area along the river, and re-posted two bat boxes that had fallen over.

Team installing the fence
Re-set crib stairs
Our first custom crew of the year took place last week at Callahan State Park in Framingham, MA. A group of employees from Marsh & McClennan Agency teamed up with us to help brush out sections of the Bay Circuit through the Park. Volunteers tackled overgrown forsythia and burning bush, an invasive plant, as well as general trail clearing. New Bay Circuit Trail markers replaced old, cracked, or missing blazes - be on the lookout for these new markers as they slowly begin to replace the white blazes!
Posting the new trail markers
Stopping to enjoy the view
We hit the ground running, and we won't stop until winter is back again! Check out the full schedule for volunteer events, including one-day, weekend, and custom crew events, as well as the first ever week-long Teen Trail Crew!



Rock Work Advanced Skills Training will be offered the weekend of July 25-26, 2015.  This workshop will be open to all AMC volunteers, regardless of program.
You will join experienced leaders to learn the fundamentals of safely moving rock, trail stabilization and treadway protection.  We plan to do some trail work off the Mount Washington Auto Road (weather permitting).

Depending on the weather we will decide upon the appropriate location for the training session which will be held rain or shine.  Lower on the mountain, rock work done in the 1970's could use rebuilding to improve the treadway and drainage on the Madison Gulf Trail as it approaches Lowe's Bald Spot.

Tools, hardhats and all the equipment will be available.  Bring work boots, gloves and appropriate clothes.

Meet Saturday morning at 8:00am at Camp Dodge for Safety discussion and briefing on the work.  Breakfast and Trail Lunches available. 

We will drive up the Auto Road to the work site and return for the BBQ by 3-4:00pm.  Overnight accommodations and meals are available at Camp Dodge, during this 2-day Rock Work Session. 

To register, please contact Brendan Taylor at btaylor@outdoors.org for a registration packet. 

White Mountain Adopt-A-Trail program needs your help to fill a void of backlogged trailwork – all while enjoying stunning vistas from the alpine zone on Mt. Washington!


Volunteer Teen Trail Crews on the Bay Circuit Trail!

"Get Outside, Get Dirty, and Give Back"

You may have heard this familiar mantra before, but nowhere does it ring truer than on a volunteer trail crew. AMC Trail Crew has been getting outside, getting dirty, and giving back since 1919 when the White Mountain Professional Crew first started. It is one of the oldest and most respected trail crews in the country. Fast forward 96 years later and the trail crew is still protecting and restoring the natural resources and environments that AMC serves. Hoards of volunteers join us every year to help maintain and improve trails in the White Mountains, Maine, Western Massachusetts, New Jersey, and more, including international locations.

2015 will mark the pilot year for AMC's newest Teen Volunteer Trail Crew on the Bay Circuit Trail. This follows a successful first year of volunteer programming on the BCT, most notably the one-day weekend work parties. Saturday work parties are continuing and expanding this year to include some 2-days events. Check out the schedule here.

Most folks know the Boston area as the home of AMC's headquarters, but not necessarily as a place with ample trail work opportunities. The Bay Circuit Trail bridges the gap and provides close-to-home recreation and volunteer opportunities for teens and adults alike. 

On a hike on the BCT through Harold Parker, Fall 2014
The teen volunteers will be working in Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover, MA. This 3,000 acre protected forest just 20 minutes north of Boston hosts ~5 miles of the BCT. It provides an array of recreational opportunities such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, trail running, and more. Visitors can enjoy seeing varied ecosystems, diverse wildlife, and awesome natural features like glacial erratics as they make their way through the forest.

Not only will participants get to enjoy all of the great aspects of trail crew life like hearty meals and swapping stories around the campfire, they will also help improve an maintain the BCT through Harold Parker. The BCT, and many trails, will need lots of work to get "back into shape" after this harsh winter, and the 40 hours these teens will serve will be a tremendous help in doing so. A week long crew will be able to tackle some of the "bigger" projects that one-day work parties cannot.

Want more information? Check out the website for more details and information on how to register. 

Molly Higgins
Community Engagement Coordinator – Bay Circuit Trail
MassLIFT AmeriCorps


New Trail Signs on the Bay Circuit Trail

I was lost.

It was the end of a chilly, rainy day. I had spent a long morning doing field visits on North Shore of Massachusetts. Okay, I was only mildly lost and this was no life-or-death situation, but I still got that all-to-familiar wave of anxiety that comes with realizing you have no idea where you are. I was supposed to be in Willowdale State Forest but something didn't seem right... was I supposed to cross the street? Was the lot I parked in even on Topsfield St.? I had made so many stops to other locations that the back roads of small-town Massachusetts all started to look the same.

Map 2 for the Bay Circuit Trail - Rowley, Ipswich, and Boxford

Getting lost was precisely what I was trying to remedy. AMC received a grant from Cell Signaling Technology to fund improved signage on the Bay Circuit Trail in seven North Shore towns. My role was to work with local volunteers and members of the Bay Circuit Trails Committee to identify places where traditional wooden routed trail signs would be useful. This project will serve as a "test" to see where wooden trail intersection signs work (or do not work) for the urban/suburban landscape of the BCT. So, I got out my marked up map and put a fat red circle around Point S... or was Point S really where I thought it was?

 I am no stranger to using static maps and I consider myself someone with a good sense of direction. The photo above is of the map I used most frequently during my time as a Teen Trail Crew Leader and AMC's Noble View Outdoor Center  last summer (we also did a major signage overhaul there). My BCT map was starting to look similar to the one above as I marked all the potential places that could use signs. Eventually we pared it down to strike a balance of having useful navigational information while not overloading hikers with too many signs. 

These new signs are being made by AMC's sign shop this winter and will be installed by volunteers in the spring/summer '15. I'm happy to say "Point S" stayed on the list, so users will be able to park in the lot and know whether they are walking into Bradley-Palmer State Park or Willowdale State Forest. I also mentioned the static maps that are at times difficult to use, especially in the field; those are also slated for an upgrade in 2015.

No matter what, always remember to follow the first principle of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare. It's important to have solid orienteering skills and not rely on your phone as a GPS, but nothing beats planning ahead and studying maps before you hit the trail. Keep a look out for the new trail signs on the northern section of the BCT during the spring/summer, and happy trails!

Molly Higgins
Community Engagement Coordinator – Bay Circuit Trail
MassLIFT AmeriCorps



I was working on the Webster-Jackson trail with the 4-Week Leadership and Conservation Teen Crew in the late summer of 2013 when one of the participants, David, asked me if the AMC had ever considered running a semester-long program.  David was entering his senior year of high school in Michigan and he expected to graduate early, that December.  Though he knew he wanted to work for the AMC Teen Trail Crew Program, that was not going to be possible in the winter of 2014 so he needed something to do, and bumming around the house or getting a minimum wage job at home were not his top choices.  Ideally, he wanted to enroll in a gap-year program, but alas, AMC had none at the time, so we discussed other options he might take in the winter before applying for a summer 2014 job.  David was not the only participant to ever inquire about such a program, but creating something like that would not be easy and would require a lot of help.

While working at a camp fair in early 2014, Colby Meehan of AMC’s Teen Wild Program mentioned that she had a number of former participants who had asked about a gap-year program and she was considering creating one, and would Teen Trails be interested in joining up with Teen Wild.  Indeed, we were, and now, based on growing interest from our participants, the AMC Teen Trails and Teen Wild Programs are happy to announce the first ever AMC Semester Leadership Development Program!

If you are 17 and over, and you want to develop your leadership and backcountry skills, learn or improve upon trail work experience, and grow as an outdoor leader, then this program is perfect for you.  There will also be a Wilderness First Aid and Leave No Trace Master Educator course as a part of the curriculum.  You will go through an advance trail work training and complete trail projects, as well as engage in intensive community building through rugged wilderness travel adventures.  This program will take you all over the north east, from northern Maine, to the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey, and many places in between. 

The Basic’s of the AMC Semester Program:

Fall 2015 Semester:  September 12 - November 20
Spring 2016 Semester:  February 21 - April 30

The program will start and end at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Locations throughout the program will include Camp Dodge Volunteer Center in the White Mountains, Noble View Outdoor Center in Russell, MA, and the Mohican Outdoor Center in the Delaware Water Gap of New Jersey, among others.  At all locations, we will be spiking out in backcountry locations nearby. 

*Due to weather conditions, the schedule of locations will be different between the Fall and Spring semesters.

$8,500.00 for AMC Members
$9,350.00 for non-Members

 Additional Information:
To find out more about the program and to register, visit our AMC Activity Listings

Learn more about AMC’s Teen Wilderness Adventure and Teen Trail Crews.

Or visit AMC's Lodges to learn more about the different facilities that will host this program


Volunteer Vacations Go International

Sunset in Costa Rica (photo by Nat Scrimshaw)

We have so many amazing volunteers who help us during the peak trail work season in the White Mountains, but somehow, that is still not a long enough season for volunteering on trails.  No, we have seen a spike in interest in off-season volunteer vacations among our adult volunteers with the US Virgin Island and Southern California PCT Crews – which we are running again in Winter 2015!  Therefore, we decided that we should continue this excellent trend embarking on our first truly international Volunteer Vacation by heading to Costa Rica from April 4-11, 2015!

Sendero Pacific (Pacific Slope Trail)
Sendero Pacifico (Pacific Slope Trail) project combines recreation, conservation and sustainable community development.  It envisions a network of trails, huts, protected forest, and sustainable farms and communities between the Monteverde cloud forest and mangrove forests in the Gulf of Nicoya. While there is a primary route, the Sendero Pacifico is a trail system with various hiking options rather than a single long trail. Trail sections connect a network of small towns and each community develops and maintains its own trail and hut system. We will be working in one of these communities, San Luis de Monteverde.

The program runs for eight days, with two travel days, one free day, and five work days. Project-related training will be provided by an AMC Volunteer Trails Program Crew Leader, under direction of volunteers from the ADISL. This program is open to all over the age of 18.
Volunteers stay at the Albergue Amapala (a hiking hut) and hike to work locations along the trail. Travel may involve up to an hour hike in from the trailhead and carrying heavy loads of 20 to 30 pounds. Crews will work five days during the program, averaging 4-6 hours per day in the field, with one day off and afternoons free for enjoying the surrounding area.
Projects may include clearing drainage ditches, brushing back vegetation, out-sloping, general correcting of erosion and erosion problems, moving stone for water bars and embankments or building rock stairs, drainage structures, or retaining walls. 

2015 Dates:
April 4-11
$350.00 for AMC Members
$385.00 for Non Members
To learn more about the crew, including more details on the work, lodging, travel, and to register please contact Brendan Taylor at btaylor@outdoors.org

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