I recently joined a volunteer group for my local trail called trail patrol. This involves committing to riding the local trail a few times a month and reporting any noteworthy conditions such as fallen trees. When I ride, I wear a vest identifying myself as a trail patrol. This invites visitors to the trail to ask questions. I have found this experience very rewarding from the standpoint of doing my part to communicate issues and better yet a conversation starter with other cyclists.
This is important since the offices for the trail are near the center of the 165-mile-long trail and staff don’t get out to the ends of the trail as often as they would like. This trail like many others has many owners all coordinated via a single nonprofit. Recently there was some construction to improve a road crossing. The trail staff were aware of the pending construction but the local owner had responsibility. The result was that the trail staff did not realize the construction had started until I alerted them and sent a few pictures. As they say the trail patrol functions as their eyes along the trail.
As I ride, report conditions and answer questions, I log my hours on the trail. I also fill the trailhead map dispensers at the start of my rides. The information I log is then used as leverage for grant funding to improve and complete the last remaining sections of the trail.
Another unexpected perk is a get together for all the volunteers in December with a nice catered lunch. If that was not enough, I was selected as volunteer of the year for my section of the trail. I don’t think there are many volunteers in my section but it was a very nice gesture. If your local trail has volunteers, I encourage you to join. If it doesn’t consider starting a group.
For more information about the trail patrol on the D&L Trail check their website.