Wilderness Volunteer Expeditions into the Boundary Waters


Put on your leather gloves, sharpen your saw and get ready to do some trail clearing!

In partnership with the Superior National Forest, Friends of the Boundary Waters is leading three amazing volunteer Wilderness trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this summer.

We’ll supply food and equipment – you bring the muscles!

Sign Up for a Volunteer Crew in the Boundary Waters

  • Check out our exciting 2024 Boundary Waters Wilderness volunteer trip options below.
  • Fill out an application and select a trip that fits your schedule and intensity level.
  • We’ll contact you with further information.
  • All trips require a $50 deposit.
  • Recruit a friend!  Due to limited campsite sizes, bringing a buddy you are comfortable sharing a tent with will be a benefit.
  • 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.
Map showing Northeast MN 2024 Wilderness Volunteer trail crew opportunities at Sioux-Hustler Trail, Mudro to Fourtown and Eagle Mountain.

Sioux-Hustler Trail (low-intensity trip)

June 19-25, 2024

This trip to the northwestern corner of the Wilderness will involve a chance to canoe, camp, hike, and work on the Sioux-Hustler trail. Trail maintenance includes using hand tools to brush vegetation along the edge of the trail and clearing fallen trees from the path. This is a remote trail with plenty of mud, water and stunning outdoor scenery and solitude.

While this is a low-intensity trip, it does require good fitness levels and the ability to paddle, hike, and camp in a remote location.

This trip involves 5 days of trail work.

Trip Itinerary:

June 19 (Day 1): Meet at Friends’ Ely Office on Sheridan Street at noon. Stay at Fenske Lake campground.

June 20 – 24 (Day 2 – 6): Trail work on the Sioux Hustler Trail. Return to campground on Day 6.

June 25 (Day 7): Leave campground after breakfast.

Eagle Mountain (moderate-intensity)

July 24-30, 2024

Set out on a rewarding journey to Eagle Mountain, the highest peak in Minnesota, by joining our this trail-clearing expedition. Located in the Boundary Waters, this volunteer opportunity offers breathtaking views and the chance to experience the wilderness in a unique way while helping to preserve access to this pristine place. Volunteers will clear fallen trees and debris, cut back vegetation, and campsite maintenance on the Fishhook Lake campsite. Join us in this adventure to connect with nature, forge new friendships, and contribute to the conservation of Minnesota’s remarkable wilderness.

Trip Itinerary:

July 24, Day 1: Meet at Friends’ Ely Office on Sheridan Street at noon. Stay at Fenske Lake campground.

July 25 – 29, Day 2 – 6: Trail work on the Eagle Mountain Trail.

July 30, Day 7: Leave Fenske Lake campground after breakfast.

Mudro to Fourtown (high-intensity trip)

August 21-27, 2024

Take this journey up the Echo Trail north of Ely to canoe, camp, and work on the Mudro Lake and Fourtown Lake Portages.

Meet new friends while getting your hands dirty moving rocks, earth, sticks, and maintaining an important portage trail in the Boundary Waters. This trip will require good fitness levels and the ability to paddle and camp in a remote location.

Trip Itinerary:

August 21 (Day 1): Meet at Friends’ Ely Office on Sheridan Street at noon. Stay at Fenske Lake Campground.

August 22 – 26 (Day 2 – 6): Trail work on Mudro Lake and Fourtown Lake portage trails. Return to Fenske Lake Campground on Day 6.

August 27 (Day 7): Leave Fenske Lake Campground after breakfast.

A crew saws a log during a BWCA Volunteer trip

Podcast – BWCA Trail Clearing

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.
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 training from a Friends Trail Crew Leader before taking part in restoration and conservation projects in the wilderness, all while camping out!  You will spend a week as part of a group of up to 9 wilderness-minded outdoor enthusiasts.

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 Superior National Forest to place you in another volunteer project.

For additional volunteer opportunities, please check out our volunteer page.


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