You Can Now Train to Become an ‘Adopt a Trail’ Volunteer for Great Smoky Mountains National Park This April

by Jon D. B.

Become an integral part of preserving the 848 miles of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) trails as an Adopt a Trail Volunteer this April.

Want to become involved with America’s most visited national park? Tennessee and North Carolina natives are in luck, as the park is announcing the recruiting of volunteers to their Adopt a Trail program this April. As the park cites, “Volunteers are needed to hike at least one designated trail, four times per year, and submit a report on their findings.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are actively recruiting volunteers this month to hike portions of the 848 miles of park trails across Tennessee and North Carolina.

“Information that adopters provide is critical in helping park trail maintenance staff better prioritize work,” the park cites in their press release. “Through this coordinated effort, the park can better ensure that trails remain accessible for visitors and that trailside resources are protected.”

How to Become a Great Smoky Mountains National Park ‘Adopt a Trail’ Volunteer

Ready to make a difference in the Smokies? Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Training opportunities will be from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at two locations:
    • Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC on Friday, April 29
    • Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN on Saturday, April 30
  • Volunteers must attend one of these 3-hour required training which includes information on how the park maintains trails, how to report relevant trail needs information, and how to instill ‘Leave No Trace’ practices while hiking
  • Contact Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe by phone at 828-497-1949 or email [email protected] to register

The best part? No experience is necessary to become a volunteer. Prospective volunteers should, however, be comfortable hiking in the backcountry and enjoy interaction with visitors.

Want to brush up on your Leave No Trace principles beforehand? See our ‘Leave No Trace’ in U.S. National Parks: Breaking Down the Seven Principles.

To become a Great Smoky Mountains National Park volunteer, please contact Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe by phone at 828-497-1949 or email [email protected] to register for the training.

GRSM Continues ‘Trails Forever’ Excellence By Recruiting New Volunteers

The newest wave of GRSM volunteers will become a part of the park’s Trails Forever initiative. This ongoing partnership with Friends of the Smokies works to improve many of the parks most heavily trafficked trails.

Ramsey Prong trail preservation. (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS media release)

In addition, the park program funds a permanent, highly skilled trail crew. Their focus? Rehabilitating high use trails, something Trails Forever has been mastering since 2012. In 2022, the program endowment is worth more than $6 million.

To date, Friends of the Smokies patrons have contributed more than $2 million through the program. This has led to the full rehabilitation of Abrams FallsTrillium Gap, and Rainbow FallsAlum CaveChimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails have also seen renovation.

This month, Trails Forever work would begin on preserving the Crosby and Ramsey Cascades trails.

For additional volunteer opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit Trails Forever online here.