"Each portion built should, of course, be rigorously maintained and not allowed to revert to disuse. A trail is as serviceable as its poorest links." ~ Benton MacKaye
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club maintains 125 miles of trails in Georgia including all of Appalachian Trail and associated side trails, and the Duncan Ridge Trail.
The Trail is divided into 11 districts, which are managed by district leaders. The districts are further divided into sections, which are maintained by one or more maintainers.
Maintainers make regular trips to their section to maintain water diversion structures, cut weeds and intruding plant growth, paint blazes, and remove any obstructions on the trail. Larger and more difficult projects that require additional workers or skills are done during monthly club work trips or other special trips.
GATC follows accepted trail maintenance practices of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service.
GATC schedules maintenance work trips on the third Saturday each month, which are typically attended by 30 to 60 people. The trips are done throughout the year and are rarely cancelled because of inclement weather.
Trail Shelters and Campsites
GATC routinely cleans and maintains the shelter system and off-trail campsites.
Trail Signs and Trail Markings
GATC is responsible for all signs and blazes on the Trail itself. Signs at trailhead parking are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.
GATC provides all tools necessary for trail work.
GATC volunteers regularly evaluate trail conditions in order to plan future maintenance activities.
GATC considers safety to be of prime importance in carrying out its trail management and maintenance duties. GATC members and guests are encouraged to practice safe work habits and wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
GATC has installed “moldering privies” at each shelter location in Georgia. Privy maintenance involves regularly providing wood chips to each location. Privy maintenance is one of the most challenging things that maintainers do.
Training and Certification
Volunteers on work trips receive on-the-job training from more experienced club members.
The use of crosscut saws and chainsaws requires special training and certification by the U.S. Forest Service. Training classes are scheduled each year for those maintainers who wish to acquire these skills. Members are allowed to use these saws only after successfully attaining certification.