• A group opportunity. Invite your friends.

Backpack and Volunteer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Session 4

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  • A group opportunity. Invite your friends.

Join the Rocky Top Volunteer Trail Crew! You'll live and work in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for eight days (seven nights). Watch a video about the Trail Crew experience here: https://appalachiantrail.org/get-involved/volunteer/trail-crews/rocky-top-trail-crew/

The crew will camp in a designated crew site for the duration of each session. Once in the field, your home will be a backpacking tent, and day hikes ranging in length from 1 mile to 2.5 miles (one way) will take you to work areas to perform the required work. To reach the designated crew field camp, you will access the A.T. via Snake Den Ridge Trail, which is a strenuous hike of approximately 6 miles and a steady 3,500-foot elevation gain. The field camp near Tricorner Shelter is another 3.8 miles southbound on the A.T. In total, you will hike 9.8 miles to reach the field camp.

Pack support will relieve some of the weight of group food and gear as well as tools. However, the capacity of animals is limited, so you will be expected to carry your personal gear, water, and food for your hike into the crew campsite. Depending on the weight of your personal gear, you could carry between 30 and 45 lbs to the crew field camp.

In 2024, the crew will be working within 2.5 miles of Tricorner Shelter, between Mt. Chapman and Old Black, which is one of the most remote sections of the Appalachian Trail. The crew’s task is to continue repairing and rehabilitating this heavily eroded section of the A.T. to ensure that trail conditions are safe for users (both hikers and horse riders). Work will include the addition of steps, water bars, and other features to the existing tread to divert water and reduce erosion and off-trail trampling.

Soak Ash Base Camp is located near Gatlinburg, TN where volunteers are expected to meet at the start of the crew session. Read a complete volunteer position description for the Rocky Top Crew here:


Session 4 will begin on 10/16 at 3PM and finish on 10/24 ending around 8PM.

Volunteers must arrive at basecamp on the start date between noon and 3 p.m. for crew introductions and orientation. Dinner will be provided at 6 p.m., and afterwards, the crew packs group gear and has an orientation meeting before wrapping up for the evening. On Thursday (9/5) morning the Crew will pack up and travel from basecamp to the backcountry project work site that is located near Tri-Corner Knob Shelter.

This crew session will require backpacking about 10 miles up a steep side trail to reach the work area and field camp for the eight-day sessions. Please note that this campsite will not be accessible by car. Additional support will be provided for packing in the group's gear. At the end of the crew session, volunteers are welcome and encouraged to spend the final night at Base Camp.

The following resources will be provided to volunteers:

  • Shuttles to and from the nearest airports/bus stations, provided upon request.
  • Transportation from basecamp to trailhead.
  • Room and board.
  • Three meals a day (with lots of snacks!), including a large welcome and thank you dinners.
  • All cooking/kitchen equipment for the backcountry.
  • Loaner camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and backpack).
  • All trail work tools, gear, and PPE (gloves, glasses, hard hat, and shin guards).
  • Training and leadership guidance throughout the week.

Volunteers are expected to provide the following:

  • Appropriate work clothes (long pants, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty).
  • Personal camping equipment if desired.
  • A willingness to work hard within personal capabilities.
  • An ability to follow crew staff instruction and example.
  • A great attitude and being open to meeting new trail crew friends!

Due to the nature of Rocky Top's remote locations and backpacking requirement, registrants are expected:

  • To certify that you are able to complete a baseline fitness test that includes:
    • Hiking 1.5 miles in 40 minutes or less carrying a 30-pound backpack
    • Choosing and successfully completing three of the below activities:
      • 15 pushups in 1 minute
      • 20 air squats in 1 minute
      • 25 sit-ups in 1 minute
      • 1-minute plank
  • To report on recent backpacking trip(s) documenting distance, location, elevation change, difficulty, and trip length to demonstrate backcountry experience.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older to participate in Rocky Top.

More detailed information will be provided during the application process. You learn more about Rocky Top here: https://appalachiantrail.org/get-involved/volunteer/trail-crews/rocky-top-trail-crew/

Advanced registration necessary.

This in-person opportunity only accepts volunteers with a current domestic mailing address. Any registration that does not meet that requirement will be canceled.


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Mission Statement

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.


Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a project built on civic engagement. It exists because people like you step up and help out in a variety of ways, outdoors or inside. Activities can be physical (such as Trail work or boundary maintenance), creative (like contributing photography or writing), or organizational (like planning or leading activities).

Volunteers gain new skills through their work. Whether you volunteer because you enjoy time in nature, want to forge new friendships, or appreciate having a deeper connection to a place you hold in high regard, we are glad you are here.

There are a variety of ways to contribute your talents and your time.




Wed Oct 16, 2024 - Thu Oct 24, 2024


Gatlinburg, TN 37738




  • People 55+
  • Group


  • Must be at least 18
  • 8 days, 7 nights
  • Two-step application, baseline fitness test, and a report on recent backpacking trip(s) documenting distance, location, elevation change, difficulty, and trip length to demonstrate backcountry experience.

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