As I have mentioned in the past, the Appalachian Trail in the eastern US is maintained by volunteers. Even though the Trail is part of the US National Park system (where it is known as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail), most of the maintenance work is done by volunteer members of a network of 31 trail-maintaining clubs along the 2000-mile length of the trail.
I’m a member of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, which maintains the trail here in the state of Georgia from the trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain to the border with North Carolina. My XYL, a friend, and I together maintain a 1.5 mile section. It happens that our trail section crosses over the summit of Wildcat Mountain W4G/NG-020. So anyone who activates that summit has accessed it by the trail we maintain.
Our section actually is a side trail that leads from the main trail to the Whitley Gap shelter, one of the Appalachian Trail shelters for hikers to sleep in. We maintain the trail, the shelter, a composting privy, and a side trail from the shelter to a spring that is a water source for hikers.
“Maintaining” the trail means we visit our section four to six times a year to:
prune back branches that grow into the trail
remove dead branches and trees that fall across the trail, which may involve sawing if necessary.
clear away grasses, weeds (including poison ivy), bushes, etc., that grow into the trail
maintain drainage channels that drain rain water (and snow melt) off the trail so it doesn’t turn into a swamp
identify dead trees that pose a safety hazard, so they can be cleared away by other volunteer sawing teams
pick up litter (fortunately not a big problem)
clear away unofficial fire rings that otherwise degrade the forest floor and lead to the creation of “informal” campsites
renew the painted blazes on trees that mark the course of the trail
maintain the structure of the shelter and the privy.
I was wondering: do any other SOTA operators maintain trails to SOTA summits, or maintain the summits? If so, what summits are they, and is this part of a formal organization or is it something you do informally?
[For SOTA ops in the eastern US: if you use the Appalachian Trail and want to help maintain it, this page has a link to some volunteer opportunities. It also has a link to find your local trail club, which is the best way to get involved. If you can’t do volunteer work but want to help, it costs money to maintain the Appalachian Trail - you can contribute by becoming a member or by donating. Of course, anyone in the world can become a member and support the Appalachian Trail (hint!). And thanks!]
The maintenance of paths is an important task and is largely carried out on a voluntary basis in Germany.
In every low mountain range, as in the Alps, there is actually an association (e.g. Black Forest Association) that takes care of this.
When I was in F/MC recently, a young woman and a young man struggled to fix a wooden beam across the path on the steep, slippery south path of F/MC-004. They had walked up with me a few hours earlier. And now that I was on the way back from my hike from F/MC-003, they were still active. It was a very hot day.
My wife had slipped on a dirt path only a few weeks before and broken her ankle in 3 places, although she is an experienced hiker and sure-footed.
Under this impression of the past, I thanked them for their work and put a 10 euro note in their hands to go for a drink afterwards.
We also belong to the American Alpine Club (AAC) which supports climbing and mountain travel, especially in the US. When traveling in Europe, AAC membership is recognized by other clubs such as the DAV and AAC members get the same privileges (discounts on maps at the stores in Munich, lodging fees at huts, etc).
If you are a supporter, you have access to their database with hundreds of tracks, as well as access to their planing site SwitzerlandMobility.
In a nutshell
Hiking is the most popular leisure activity for the Swiss. A network of hiking trails of over 65,000 kilometers is available for this purpose. It connects the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland - from the local recreation area to the alpine mountains.
This globally unique offer is one of the successes of the Swiss Hiking Trail Association with its 26 cantonal hiking trail organizations.
We can provide these services thanks to the commitment of 1,500 volunteers as well as the financial support of sponsors, members and companies.
Have fun on the Swiss network of hiking trails!
Unique in the world: hiking trails in good shape
In order to maintain the recreational value and the connection function of the hiking trail network, it is legally protected by the federal constitution and the federal law on footpaths and hiking trails (FWG). The globally unique offer is one of the successes of the Swiss Hiking Trail Association and its 26 cantonal hiking trail organizations.