Trail Building in the Ozarks

A manual for working with volunteers to build quality nonmotorized, multi-use, natural surface single-track trails

This manual was created to accompany the Crew Leader training program developed by the Ozark Trail Association (OTA). It serves as an aid to volunteer Crew Leaders working with other volunteers to build and maintain single-track natural surface trails in the Ozarks region of Missouri. This manual is designed to serve as a baseline for trail construction and maintenance and as an introduction to leading small groups of volunteers on natural surface trail construction and maintenance events.

by Ozark Trail Association

In simplest terms, a leader is someone who has the capacity to guide, organize and motivate people to achieve a common goal. A Crew Leader is responsible for applying this skill set to constructing and maintaining recreational trails while building lasting volunteer relationships.

There are many different styles of leadership with no single style being better than the others. Volunteers building trail will be a diverse group, as will be the goals and objectives of the crew. It is the Crew Leader’s responsibility to ensure volunteers have a safe and quality experience. A person in this role not only serves as a teacher of safety, leadership and trail construction and maintenance, but also as an ambassador for the trail. It is essential that a Crew Leader promote a positive volunteer experience. This encourages volunteers to come back time and time again, feel a sense of pride and stewardship, and essentially take ownership of the trail.

Among the many tasks of a Crew Leader, these are critical: lead, teach, listen, direct activities, provide knowledge of the trail and trail building skills, and emphasize a safe and fun experience. This is not an easy role, but the effective leadership of Crew Leaders is among the top reasons why people form a lasting connection with the trail, bring their families and children to events, and help sustain the trail organization and trail throughout the years.

About the Author


Come explore the rugged, natural beauty of the Missouri Ozarks on the Ozark Trail.

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