Forestry Job Spotlight: Trails

CanyonsAfter a few months off, this month we are jumping right back into our spotlight series! As previously covered in an earlier blog, searching the USAjobs website can get confusing. There are hundreds of jobs out there and their job titles might not sound anything like what the position actually entails.  Even though you now know how to search for jobs according to their series and grade, you might be thrown off by the jobs that your search comes up with. I am going to be spotlighting specific starter positions within our public lands that you might not necessarily think to apply to. However, these are jobs that you should be applying to, as they offer an excellent foot into the door in the forestry field. This month’s spotlight is on what we like to call “Trails”. You will see it listed as a Laborer on USAjobs. Special thanks to Evan Gerry from Rocky Mountain National Park for helping us out with this month’s spotlight!

The Job: Laborer (Trails) or Trail worker


The Location: Any land area that has either front-county or backcountry trails. Pretty much any public land will have these jobs, even tiny national monuments that you may not expect. Only a small handful of parks do not offer these positions.


The Schedule: You will almost always work ten-hour days Monday through Thursday, unless you are backcountry. In that case you typically work eight days and then have six days off. Some parks rotate their employees through a backcountry cycle; others have specific crews dedicated to just backcountry.


Experience Required: Most agencies look for people with trails experience, this experience can come through working with a conservation corps (IE California Conservation Corps- CCC, American Conservation Experience or Student Conservation Association crews, or AmeriCorps). Manual labor experience particularly in masonry or chainsaw work is also a good way to get in.


The Duties: The primary duties of a trail laborer can vary from project to project. They mostly involve trail construction and trail maintenance. Some examples of the work you do are working with timber or stone and making trail features, clearing downed trees from trails, bridge construction. Teamwork is a HUGE thing when working trails. Your crew becomes your family, and a lot of the work has to do with just how well you can get a long with your crew, even when things get hard.


This job is for you if: If you like manual labor, if you are okay spending a lot of time with same people, if ability to maintain positive outlook in tough situations, if have a sense of humor, if you like creating something with your own hands, or if you like working outside.


This job is not for you if: You don’t like getting dirty, you can’t take criticism from your crew, if you don’t like being tired at the end of the day.


The most frustrating part of the job: Accepting the fact that some days your work sucks (digging ditches in the rain for 8 hours) and that it may not feel like your changing the world or accomplishing very much.


The most rewarding part of the job: Having some of the best days of your life with crew who becomes like your family, sharing all that time in the outdoors with these people day after day.