Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area Seeking Trail Maintainers

Lovers of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee can give back while enjoying the park by volunteering to help maintain a favorite trail there.

You might not win anything more than appreciation, but you'll have a good excuse to spend more time in the park. The volunteer program, new this year, is called the Trail Keepers program. Its goal is to provide an extended presence in the backcountry and at the same time provide the Big South Fork's staff with information on trail conditions and issues.

Those who adopt a particular trail are expected to hike it at least four times during the calendar year, report on overall trail conditions, pick up any trash, and submit a trail condition report after each hike. Being a Trail Keeper does not involve heavy trail maintenance or the use of any kind of power equipment. Trail Keepers may use a small handsaw to cut out small trees that are down across the trail and may move branches and do light maintenance by hand.

The program is being launched first for the trails in the Kentucky side of the park, but eventually will be available for every trail in the Big South Fork.

"There are so many people who love to hike, bike, and ride the trails at the Big South Fork. With more than 400 miles of trails to take care of, we think this program will be a great way to have folks who have a special interest in a particular trail help the Park Service keep it in great shape," said Niki Stephanie Nicholas, park superintendent.

To learn more about the Big South Fork Trail Keeper program go to this site or call Effie Houston, the park's volunteer coordinator, at (423) 569-9778.