SMMTC Trail Maintenance

Working Together We Can Make a Difference On Our Trails

Before You Sign Up

  • Most trail work is on Saturdays and we usually start work at 8:30AM. Be punctual.
  • Sometimes we may hike a mile or two to the work site. Are you okay with that?
  • We generally work until 2:30 with some variation (rain, heat or we run out of work)
  • View the Calendar and select a time and place where you would like to work.
  • If you can't find a date that works, our partners may have something for you.
  • If you represent a group that would like to work with us, let us know!
  • Interested in doing some trail work in the Channel Islands?

When You are Ready to Join Us

  • Call the Leader listed for the date you selected to let him/her know you are coming.
  • Watch the Training and Safety Video and follow the instructions.
  • Review the “Know Before you Go” Page.
  • Review the mini “Trail Work Guide”.
  • Interested in Car Pooling to the Work Location? For many events we meet at T.O.T.C. Call one day prior to confirm! Departure varies according to destination (usually 7:15 to 7:45)

Day of the Event

  • Bring water and lunch.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, work gloves, hat, long sleeve shirt and eye protection.

Trail maintenance is a vital part of preserving the trails and keeping them safe for trail users. Without regular maintenance, the trails would become overgrown or washed out, limiting their use and compromising the safety of trail users.

Why are volunteers needed? In the current economic conditions federal, state and local municipalities are strapped for funding to support activities such as trail maintenance, habitat restoration and removal of invasive plants. Government agencies have reached out to non-profit groups to help in supporting these activities to promote the goals of each of these organizations and to keep the natural resources available and safe for the public to enjoy. Volunteering is a great way to preserve the region's incredible trail network for the present and future generations. Volunteers have played a critical role in the development of new trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and other areas. If all trail users volunteered just one day a year we could meet the demands of maintaining more than 500 miles of trail and make the trails that much better! The Trails Council works under the direction of California State Parks and the NPS. Our crew leaders are trained and authorized to perform trail maintenance. All events are cleared in advance by NPS or State Parks in regard to sensitive native plants or archaeology.

Why is habitat restoration important? According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California has lost 90 percent of its wetlands and riparian (living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse, such as a river, lake or tidewater) habitats, yet these ecosystems provide habitat to 80 percent of the state's wildlife species. Non-native plant invasion has been occurring in this fragile ecological zone since early explorers arrived with mustard seeds to mark their trails. Non-native grasses, trees and plants have found a similar home far from their lands of origin, and are a threat to native plants and animals.

Sortable, Searchable Table of Trail Work Events

  • Contact the leader a few days before the event to ensure we have enough tools and to confirm the meeting place and time. Plus if we know you are coming, we can contact you if there are any last minute changes.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, hat and sturdy closed-toed shoes. Bring work gloves, a pack with lunch, water (at least 2 qts.) and snacks.
  • All participants will be required to sign a liability waiver at the trailhead in order to participate in the outing.
  • Most trail work is on Saturdays and we usually start work at 8:30AM. Be punctual.
  • We generally work until 2:30 with some variation (rain, heat or we run out of work)
Contact the Crew Leader to Sign Up
Date Location Trail More Information Day
2024-06-22Point Mugu State ParkLa Jolla Valley Trails Routine Trail Maintenance. 7:30AM to 2:30PM. Pack a lunch and bring some water. Please contact leader before attending and consider arriving a few minutes early to sign the necessary forms.
John Kross 805-587-0721

In the Google Calendar you can print your own PDF by selecting Agenda and then the print icon. Select date range and level of information. Please be aware that the PDF offered on this page is not always updated in the event of venue changes, so ALWAYS be sure to contact the leader and/or verify the time and place on the Google Calendar.
image for pdf link January to June 2020 PDF
View Previous Years' Schedules

Primarily of interest for our crew leaders. Note: changes in prior schedules are not always reflected in the PDFs.

Channel Islands Trail Maintenance

Each year we coordinate with Channel Island NPS to arrange some trail work trips to the islands, usually Santa Cruz Island. Some prior trail work experience is desired. If you are interested in learning more about these trips please contact Jerry Mitcham directly at (818) 406-1269.

Special Projects

Other volunteer projects, unscheduled at this time, may be conducted in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA and Channel Islands National Park. Special projects might be arranged for school or corporate groups interested in performing trail maintenance or other volunteering efforts as public service projects. If you are interested in arranging a special project, please contact Jerry Mitcham (818) 406-1269 or email us at

Here are some of the most important things to remember when preparing for and participating in trail work events with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council. Download these guidelines as a PDF.

Make the Commitment to Join Us

  • Please contact the leader before the event to ensure enough tools are on hand and to the confirm meeting time and place If we know you are coming, then we can contact you should our plans change on account of changes beyond our control. We have had to cancel or change location on account of rain or fire danger. If you can't reach the leader call Dave Edwards 805-985-3728 cell 805-279-3029.
  • Meeting places and times vary as noted on the schedule below, and are subject to change, make sure when you call that you confirm the meeting time and place. We plan to end work at 2 pm at the trailhead, please tell the leader when you call if you need to leave earlier. Keep in mind we often car pool, shuttle or hike to the actual work site; leaving early is not always feasible.

What to Bring & Wear

  • Enthusiasm, lots of it!
  • Work boots, preferably those with hard toes. In practice, many volunteers wear ordinary hiking shoes or good running shoes.
  • Sandals, flip flops and street shoes are unacceptable.
  • Work gloves, we have a few spares in case you forget or do not have them.
  • Sun screen, hat, long sleeves and long pants. Long is to protect from the sun and the many thorn-laden plants and trees you will encounter.
  • Clothing appropriate to weather conditions (rain, cold, layers for changing temperatures).
  • Plenty of water and some lunch. When it is hot you may need to drink one quart of water per hour.

Children or Dogs?

  • Leave pets at home.
  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany any volunteer under the age of 18. If you are part of an organized group such as Boy Scouts, the organizations adult leader must accompany them. Their organization assumes the liability and therefore is the adult supervisor to sign for the group. These are State Parks requirements.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings and Your Self

  • We will stop working if it gets too hot. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious threats when doing manual labor in warm weather.
  • Pace yourself. If you do not regularly engage in manual labor, trail work can tire you out fast.
  • When lifting, bend your knees and lift using the power of your legs.
  • Be wary of thorn—laden plants — they are prepared to strike when you least expect it (as when you become very focused on your work).
  • Poison Oak is often found on our trails. We will do our best to alert you to the presence of Poison Oak.
  • Steep slopes sometimes do not offer secure footing and rocks can be easily dislodged. Avoid working below others on a steep slope.
  • Watch out for snakes. Be cautious around undercut rocks, fallen trees and deep shady bushes.
  • Rattlesnakes are normally not a problem because they prefer to avoid you even more than you want to avoid them.
  • Interesting creatures that live below the surface are often uncovered while digging and moving rocks. Be sure to wear gloves, then tip the rock and look underneath before lifting.

Handling Tools

  • Carry only one tool in each hand at your side — never over your shoulder. Sharp and heavier tools should be carried on your downhill side.
  • Keep about six feet distance between you and others when carrying tools to a work site.
  • Store tools not in use on the uphill side, off of the trail. Make sure that tools and packs are placed in a stable, horizontal location.

Working Around Others

  • Keep a generous distance between yourself and your co-workers.
  • Call out “coming through” as you approach others who are engaged in work so they may stop and allow you to safely pass.

Tools You Might Use

  • Pulaski: used for grubbing and chopping, especially in building or fixing tread.
  • Shovel: scraping and digging, often for tread work.
  • Grub hoe: grubbing and pounding; useful for creating tread or drainage.
  • McLeod: raking, scraping, grubbing or tamping new trail.
  • Corona saw: for cutting small branches and trees.
  • Loppers: for cutting out stems, roots and very small branches.
  • Rock bar: for prying heavy rocks out of the ground.
  • Pick-Mattock: for picking, prying or digging tread, rocks and roots.

Video of Work done on the ADA Trail - Leo Carrillo State Park

JOIN US for four maintenance outings and you will receive an SMMTC T-shirt! Eight outings and you'll receive Milt McAuley's book Hiking Trails of the Santa Monica Mountains.