Trail Clearing Expeditions into the Boundary Waters


If moving dirt, boards, or gravel, cutting brush, bucking logs, digging latrines, clearing trail features, or building trail features sounds like a rewarding way to spend a week in the wilderness, you may be perfect for a Friends Wilderness Volunteer Trip!  These exciting new work trips are the result of a partnership between the Friends and the Superior National Forest. 

If you are interested, here’s what you will need to do:

How to Sign Up for a Trail Clearing Crew in the Boundary Waters

  • Recruit a friend!  Due to limited campsite sizes, bringing a buddy you are comfortable sharing a tent with will be a benefit!
  • Pick a trip- June 17-24 (western BWCAW), July 15-22 (western BWCAW), August 5-12 (eastern BWCAW)
  • Fill out an application
  • We’ll contact you with further information
  • If selected, you’ll receive a packet of materials.  We’ll need the completed forms 30 days before your work trip is scheduled to depart.

Friends of BWCAW and CASP-1714.jpg

Humans have been a part of the geographic area of the boundary waters for millennia.  For perhaps as long, people have maintained trails and camps in what is now the federally designated wilderness, now known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  

The beautiful places you know and love in the Wilderness are the result of hard work by many people over many years.  Now is your opportunity to continue the protection of wilderness character for generations to come.  

  • When live trees are vandalized and vegetation is destroyed in campsites, the site eventually erodes into the lake.
  • When trees fall across portages and when mud holes form, visitors often walk around them which causes erosion and creates new trails that can remain for years.
  • When visitors leave trash at a campsite or along portages and landings, it degrades the primitive nature of the area. And when they burn trash, cans, and plastics in the fire pit, they release dangerous chemicals into the air and water, and create fire pit hazards for animals and humans alike.
Jamie Lowe

These are just a few of the ongoing pressures the BWCAW faces.  If you think back to your last trip in the BWCAW, you can likely remember instances of these, and other signs of degradation.  But what can you do?

We are excited to partner with the Superior National Forest to bring you Friends Wilderness Volunteer opportunities.  You will receive Leave No Trace education and instruction from a Friends Trail Crew Leader before taking part in restoration and conservation projects around the wilderness, all while camping out!  You will spend a week as part of a group of up to 9 wilderness-minded outdoor enthusiasts working on projects to restore the BWCAW!

There are limited spaces available on Friends Wilderness Volunteer trips.  If we cannot place you in one of the scheduled trips, we will work to coordinate with the Forest and connect you to a different BWCAW project, possibly in a smaller group with a Forest employee or with our partner trail organizations.

For additional volunteer opportunities, please contact Ozzie Rief or the U.S. Forest Service.


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