Discover the Ultimate Volunteer Vacations with American Hiking Society

Discover the Ultimate Volunteer Vacations with American Hiking Society

As the American Hiking Society (AHS) celebrates the 50th anniversary of their Volunteer Vacation program, we invite you to step into a world where adventure meets altruism! 

The AHS Volunteer Vacations offer an unmatched opportunity to contribute to the preservation of our nation's natural beauty while embarking on an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

For half a century, the AHS has spearheaded Volunteer Vacations, welcoming over 17,000 volunteers who have collectively contributed to the construction and maintenance of 5,235 miles of trails. From the scenic expanses of New York's Adirondack Park to the untamed wilderness of Alaska's Prince William Sound, these volunteers have left an indelible mark on the trails we cherish. Their tireless efforts encompass a wide array of projects, including the installation of new bridges and boardwalks, invasive species removal, and the construction of new trail systems, ensuring these pristine environments remain accessible and enjoyable for future generations.

We are proud to support these vacations for over 25 years by providing them with nutritious meals as they undertake the noble task of conserving America's trails.

Shirley Banks

Shirley Banks, who has participated in an incredible 27 Volunteer Vacations and now serves as a Volunteer Vacation crew leader, shared:

"When I first started leading crews, I posted on Facebook to let people know that I would be leading if they wanted to go. My friend from college joined in and came along with his sons for six or seven Volunteer Vacations. That is really special. There are several people I’ve seen on multiple trips. This fall in Moab, a crew member who has been on four trips I’ve led will be learning how to be a crew leader. We’re co-leading."

So What Are Volunteer Vacations?

Volunteer vacations, as offered by the American Hiking Society (AHS), present a unique opportunity for individuals to combine their love for the outdoors with a passion for conservation and community service. These trips enable volunteers to contribute to the maintenance and conservation of trails across the United States while enjoying the beauty and camaraderie of the great outdoors. Here’s a closer look at what these vacations entail:

Purpose and Impact

  • Trail Maintenance and Conservation: Participants work on projects such as building and repairing trails, clearing brush, and preserving natural habitats. This work is vital for the sustainability of hiking trails and ensures they remain accessible and enjoyable for the public.
  • Environmental Stewardship: Volunteers learn about environmental preservation and the importance of maintaining natural landscapes. This education is a key component, fostering a deeper respect for the environment among participants.

Experience and Requirements

There is no experience needed to join a Volunteer Vacation! Your expert hosts will provide detailed instruction, tool demonstrations, and project oversight throughout the week. All you need is a willing attitude and to be in good physical condition to participate in moderate physical activity for approximately 6-8 hours a day with plenty of breaks, at your own pace.

Liz Guerrero, AHS NextGen Trail Leader and member of the 2023 San Juan Islands Volunteer Vacation crew, expressed how her confidence grew as she became more familiar with trail tools:
"All my doubts about being able to do trail maintenance slowly disappeared. It was reassuring to know we were only expected to do what was within our own limits."

Locations and Duration

  • Diverse Locations: AHS organizes volunteer vacations in national parks, forests, and other protected areas across the U.S. This offers participants the chance to explore new landscapes and contribute to the preservation of different ecosystems.
  • Duration: Typically, these trips last about a week, giving volunteers ample time to make a significant impact on the trails and also to form lasting friendships with fellow nature enthusiasts.
  • New for 2024: Volunteers can join shorter yet equally impactful weekend trips alongside our traditional week-long excursions. Their weekend trips offer volunteers the chance to contribute to the maintenance of their favorite trails, build new connections, and fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the great outdoors within a condensed yet meaningful timeframe. Even a weekend can have a significant impact on the outdoors.
Grand Canyon Volunteer Vacation

Benefits and Community

These vacations help us to play a crucial role in facilitating the construction and maintenance of trails on public lands throughout the United States. This support allows us to engage and inspire the next generation of trail volunteers and advocates, recruit and train new crew leaders in immersive trail stewardship techniques, and educate lawmakers and voters on issues vital to the hiking and outdoor community.

  • A Rewarding Experience: Beyond the physical work, volunteer vacations offer a rewarding experience. Volunteers often leave with a sense of accomplishment, knowing they have contributed to the preservation of the nation’s trails.
  • Building Connections: These trips are a great way to meet like-minded individuals. The shared experience of working towards a common goal fosters a unique bond among participants.

For Everyone:

AHS has formed partnerships with organizations such as Latino Outdoors and AdventurUs Women. The efforts are focused on broadening the program's outreach and capacity while engaging in trail projects that offer accessibility for all.  Their commitment to enhancing outdoor accessibility for everyone is exemplified by projects like the Aransas Wildlife Refuge where volunteers worked together to build an easy, accessible, and scenic trail that remains visible from their visitor center at all times.

Through these endeavors, they continue to advocate and create outdoor spaces that welcome individuals of all backgrounds and capabilities, fostering a more inclusive and equitable outdoor experience for all.

    How to Participate: Visit: The American Hiking Society website.
    Interested individuals can find more information and sign up for volunteer vacations through the American Hiking Society’s website. The site provides details on upcoming trips, locations, and how to prepare for a volunteer vacation.

    Volunteer vacations with the American Hiking Society offer an enriching blend of adventure, service, and education. They exemplify a commitment to preserving the natural world and provide a tangible way for individuals to contribute to this cause. Whether you’re looking to give back to the community, meet new people, or simply enjoy the great outdoors in a meaningful way, an AHS volunteer vacation could be a perfect fit.