Trail Skills Institute Sessions

Trails Institute Logo Are you interested in learning more about properly monitoring, maintaining and constructing trails? Are you a steward of the Arizona Trail or are you interested in helping out with trail projects? Do you like to get your hands dirty while learning valuable skills at the same time? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then make your reservations today for the upcoming trail trainings!

March 17, 2018 Near Superior, AZ Modules 1&2
This class is currently full. To be placed on the waiting list, please send an email to
April 7-8, 2018 Near Flagstaff, AZ Module 3
This class is currently full. To be placed on the waiting list, please send an email to
June 23, 2018 Near Flagstaff, AZ Modules 1&2
October 27-28, 2018 Near Patagonia, AZ Modules 4

This collaboration between the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) and American Conservation Experience (ACE) will teach valuable skills to volunteers, including those who have been involved in trail projects for many years. Drawing upon thousands of hours on the trail and in the classroom, including some of the most daunting trail projects you can imagine, ACE staff will inspire, educate, and give you the skills you need to be an effective steward and trail volunteer. From learning more about arid lands hydrology and how it relates to trail sustainability, to building rock check dams and realigning portions of poorly built trail, these sessions include time-tested techniques and innovative principles. Each training will take place entirely outdoors, with a focus on experiential learning. While there will be talks and demonstrations, the instructors have found that classroom time is never as valuable as time on the trail and a PowerPoint is no replacement for a pick mattock. Each training session is designed to benefit veteran trail dogs and first-timers alike. This is accomplished through various modules presented within the trainings:

Trail workers Module 1: Seeing the Trail

  • Learn how to see the trail in the context of the surrounding landscape.
  • Study the terrain to identify where the water is coming from, what it does once it reaches the trail, and the potential effects to the trail and landscape.
  • Learn how to identify and mitigate potential erosion problems.
  • Learn how to assess and document trail issues for future work.
  • Participants will receive an overview of desert and arid lands hydrology and soils in the context of trail work.
Module 2: Trail Corridor and Maintenance
  • Learn trail corridor theory to gain a sense of why trail work matters.
  • Learn about standard brushing limits and proper techniques for heavy brushing and long-term plant health.
  • Learn about earthen drainage features, when to use each one and how they act on the trail.
  • Participants will learn the nuances of trail closures and rehabilitating user-created trails, and the psychology of keeping people on the trail.

Trail worker Module 3: Stone Maintenance Structures

  • Learn about why stone structures become necessary.
  • Learn dry stone masonry principles and how they relate to trail work.
  • Learn and build rock check dams.
  • Learn and build backed water bars or armored drain pans.

Module 4: Re-route Design and Trail Layout

  • Learn the principals of trail design and deciding between switchbacks and climbing turns.
  • Learn the regulations and environmental laws behind constructing new trail.
  • Learn why a trail needs to be realigned, and how to do that with minimal impact.
  • Learn GPS route planning, corridor, and tight flagging to learn how to design a trail that any crew can see as you do.

ACE Logo Other important elements integrated into the trainings include event planning; tool maintenance; leadership, inspiration and motivation; limbing and bucking using wilderness tools; and "The User Experience: How trail workers can add or detract from the experience."

Registration for the one-day trainings is only $50 per person and includes professional instruction, a Trail Assessment Handbook, and lots of fun!

Registration for the two-day trainings is $125 per person and includes professional instruction, a Trail Assessment Handbook, four meals, and lots of fun!

Current Arizona Trail Association Stewards receive $25 discount off registration.

Scholarships are available. Contact for more information.

Space is limited so please register today.
Just select from one of the four options below, and don't forget to select which date/location you wish to attend.
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One Day Class Choices
Two Day Class Choices

STEWARD ($25):


STEWARD ($100):