Trail Friends and Fun Projects

July 27, 2023

Why do folks volunteer on the SHT? Reasons abound, from giving back to the trail to learning new skills to fulfilling community service hours. This summer, however, the prevailing theme has been “Friends!”

Lunch breaks provide a great opportunity to share stories and laughter. Photo by SHTA Intern Peyton Haug.

So many recent conversations with volunteers have centered on the fun acquaintances and the deep, lifelong friendships made during time spent on SHTA projects.

By joining in trail maintenance projects, they discover other folks who are passionate about the same things they are. Volunteers meet new folks to hike with. They meet people who love the satisfaction of a physical job well done. One group of volunteers that met on a trail crew has gone on to winter camp and canoe together. There are more stories than can be told.

My favorite quote of 2023 is, “I’ve found my people!” from a brand new volunteer with the Trail.

This summer, more than 4,000 hours have been contributed to the trail by volunteers. That’s a lot of hours to make friends! Here is some of the work folks have done while making friends in 2023:

Volunteers gather before removing the damaged Springdale Creek Bridge. Photo by SHTA Intern Peyton Haug

Volunteers have cleared trees and cut back brush from much of the trail. This work continues into the fall, as brush grows all summer long!

Volunteer crews built a stone staircase at Britton Peak, stone step crossings at Wilson Creek and Springdale Creek, and just this week are finishing up the tread renewal and boardwalk building project started last year at Mystery Mountain. In addition, volunteers have been out weekly in Duluth, building boardwalk, weed whipping, brushing, and so much more! Volunteers have stepped up to help all summer long with the asset inventory and intercept survey portions of our master planning process.

THANK YOU to all those adopters, sawyers, swampers, and trail maintenance volunteers who have worked so hard on the Trail all summer. We are so grateful for all the time, energy, and passion poured into these projects! A special shout out to our camp cooks and administrative volunteers, who are laboring behind the scenes but don’t get the glory of seeing those finished trail projects.

There’s been so much happening on the SHT this summer, but we’re only half way through! There are still plenty of projects to do, plenty of new things to learn, and best of all, plenty of new friends to make. Upcoming opportunities include everything from the very basics of brushing to building two more stone step crossings.

Join our amazing SHT volunteer community by registering for one or more of the following projects. And you can always check out our Volunteer Page to learn more.

Volunteer Lisa Byrne and contractor Larry Sampson weed whip trails near Duluth. Photo by SHTA Intern Peyton Haug.
Duluth Area Trail Maintenance, ongoing all summer

Join our southern area contractor, Larry, as he leads trail maintenance events in the Duluth vicinity. Depending on the day, you might find Larry leading groups of volunteers lopping, weed whipping, or building trail structures like stairs or boardwalks. Check out the list on the registration page for dates and details. Projects will be posted regularly throughout the summer. We post these opportunities two to six weeks in advance, though last-minute opportunities will also arise, so keep coming back to find a date that works for you!

Mystery Mountain Rehabilitation,  July 25th-31st

Join SHTA and professional trail builder Tim Malzhan as we renew this worn and muddy section of trail. This project began last year, and now we’ll wrap it up. Activities will include hardening the trail surface, building rock and wooden structures, building drainage features, and reshaping tread with hand tools. No experience necessary! Nearest town: Lutsen. Camping and dinners provided.

Please register separately for each day you wish to attend:

July 28

July 29

July 30

July 31

Introduction to Trail Work, August 4th and September 2nd

Would you like to know what it takes to maintain the SHT? Join SHTA for this half-day event meant for folks who have never done trail work. Experienced crew leads will give you pro tips on how to keep brush and water off the trail. No experience necessary! All tools and training will be provided by SHTA. Expect about a 1 mile hike from the trailhead to the project. Nearest town: Two Harbors.

August 4 (evening)

September 2 (morning)

Encampment Crossing and Reroute, August 11th-16th

Help SHTA build a safe and sustainable crossing of the Encampment River. Work will be led by professional stone builder Willie Bittner and will include building a stone step crossing and rerouting a part of the trail that is falling away. No experience necessary. Nearest town: Two Harbors. Camping and dinners provided.

Please register separately for each day you wish to attend:

August 11

August 12

August 13

August 14

August 15

August 16

Corridor Clearing and Blazing,  August 26th-27th

Have you been whacked in the face or tripped up by low-hanging branches while hiking the SHT? Here’s your chance to clear the trail corridor of woody brush using hand tools and to mark the trail you’ve cleared with fresh blazes. No experience necessary. Nearest town: Grand Marais. Camping and dinner provided.

Please register separately for each day you wish to attend:

August 26

August 27

Indian Camp Creek Stone Step Crossing, September 14th-17th

Join SHTA as we place rock stepping stones across Indian Camp Creek to create a sustainable creek crossing. Activities will include finding and moving rock, placing and stabilizing stepping stones, and using hand tools to shape the trail that approaches the crossing. No experience necessary! All tools and training will be provided by SHTA. Nearest town: Lutsen. Camping and dinners provided.

Please register separately for each day you wish to attend:

September 14

September 15

September 16

September 17

-Barbara Budd, SHTA Volunteer and Education Coordinator