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About Trail Patrol

A Brief History
       Trail Patrol was formed in the early 1970’s when Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) members started discussing ways to help landowners and users of the Appalachian Trail.  The Appalachian Mountain Club had sponsored camp overseers and trail patrols for some time, and the time seemed right for a similar educational patrol for PATC’s trails. The first patroller was appointed and began hiking the Appalachian Trail in June 1973.

The first patrollers appear to have been employees similar to our current Ridgerunners.  Each patroller was issued a badge and wore a uniform shirt. The enthusiastic response from landowners, hikers, and local officials led the PATC Council to continue and expand the program in 1974 to eight paid patrollers and as many volunteer members (then called Junior Patrol members) as possible. The program was also expanded to include the entire section of the Appalachian Trail under PATC’s jurisdiction.

Today, Trail Patrol consists of more than 75 active volunteer members who hike area trails, lending assistance and providing education on safe and responsible use of the backcountry. We also report conditions to the PATC volunteers who maintain the trails, cabins, and trail shelters. Finally, we hire, train, and supervise the Ridgerunners who are the paid seasonal employees that now fulfill the same goals on the Appalachian Trail during the summer months.


How Trail Patrol Fits into PATC's Mission

The objectives of the PATC include to support and encourage the permanent protection, conservation, and proper recreational use of the Appalachian Trail and other trails; to encourage the careful use and conservation of these trails and the surrounding land and resources by organizations and individuals; to educate the public on matters including the protection of the Appalachian Trail and other trails, resources, and camping methods; and to foster public appreciation for and use of the national and state parks and forests and other natural areas. Trail Patrol is the education and outreach arm of the PATC whose volunteers work to fulfill these objectives.

Join Us!

For more information on how you can join Trail Patrol and help spread the word on how all backcountry users can safely and responsibly enjoy the wilderness and natural areas of the mid-Atlantic region, contact the Trail Patrol Membership Chair.