The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s sustainable trail systems offer Nature Preserve visitors an exceptional experience that supports healthy lifestyles, equitable access to nature and serve as the foundation of support for the Conservancy. We are able to connect with new and existing supporters on guided hikes, through our interpretive signage or through individual tours, all of which take place on our trail systems! As such, keeping our trails in pristine condition and offering a variety of opportunities throughout our service area is crucial to our mission.

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The Conservancy often has trail projects on several properties throughout our 5 county service area. Please check with Volunteer Manager Jon Throop for current projects at


Each trail workday may involve different tasks, but all of the following may be included on any given day:

  • Clearing the trail corridor with saws and pruners
  • Removing large woody debris from corridor
  • Raking any organic material (leaves, roots etc) from the corridor
  • Using hand tools to move soil and create the trail bed
  • Paint markings to “blaze” the trail for wayfinding
  • Installation of trail features such as drains, culverts, turnpikes, or bridges


Trail building can be very strenuous labor depending on the slope and soil types we’re building the trail on. The following qualifications will help you be a successful trail builder:

  • Familiarity with basic hand tools
  • Familiarity with different trail systems – it helps if you enjoy hiking or biking!
  • Ability to perform strenuous labor for two hours at a time

If you feel you do not meet the above qualifications, don’t worry! We are always happy to teach newcomers how to work on trails and encourage all who are interested in making a positive impact on their community to join us at one of our work days!

Time Commitment

We believe that any time you choose to contribute to improving access to nature on our Preserves or elsewhere is invaluable, and you may volunteer as much as your schedule allows. That said, we’ve designed our trail building opportunities as regular, weekly efforts in which we hope you will return for multiple weeks. If you’re unable to commit to these weekday workdays, consider our Preserve Steward program which allows you to volunteer on your own schedule.


All Trail building and maintenance volunteers will receive training on all concepts necessary to build sustainable trail systems including:

  • Sustainable trail concepts
  • Tool use and safety
  • Relevance and importance of trail systems

Training Videos:

Trail Building & Design

Trail Building Tool Overview

If you’re excited to learn about and help us build sustainable trail systems, sign up to be a volunteer today!