County Associated Trail Stewards (Trail CATS)

Trail CATS volunteers

The Trail Cats is a newly established team of volunteers assisting Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management (CELM) staff with blazing and trimming trails, inspecting trails, installing signs, and all other trail-related tasks. The team consists of three different volunteer roles to appeal to a broad range of individuals, groups, and families with varying degrees of experience and availability.

Purpose

To create a dedicated network of staff and volunteers committed to establishing and maintaining a system of safe, fun and easy to navigate hiking and equestrian trails within Hillsborough County Nature Preserves.

Volunteer Benefits

Earn Trail Cat stickers, patches and invitations to exclusive hiking, paddling and camping events!

  • Trail Cats Sticker - Attend 2 Second Saturday Traiblazer Workdays
  • Trail Cats T-Shirt - Attend 10 Second Saturday Trailblazer Workdays
  • Trail Scout Patch - Submit 10 trail reports with the Avenza App
  • Trail Boss Patch - Become a Trail Boss
  • Invitation to Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet - Reach 40 volunteer hours for the year

Find a Trail Cat Event  Apply for the Trail CATS Program

Volunteer Roles - Click on the titles to read more

  1. Trail Scout

    We know that not everyone can get out and work on a trail every week or month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a vital part of this team. Trail Scouts help by going out for hikes using an app (Avenza) to record confusing intersections, trail hazards, issues with maps, or anything else that could help improve our hiking trails. Trail scouts must attend at least one Second Saturday Trail Workday and a 1-hour training course to learn how to use the Avenza App.

    Duties:

    • Hike nature preserves using an app to identify and flag confusing intersections, hazards, and other issues
    • Provide feedback and suggestions to improve trails

    Requirements:

    • Must be able to walk/hike up to 4-6 miles
    • Must complete a volunteer application and pass a background check
    • Must be over the Age of 18
    • Must attend a 1-hour training course to learn how to use the app to identify, flag, and transmit observations and suggestions to CELM staff and Trail Bosses.
    • Must have a smartphone capable of running the Free Avenza Map App
  2. Trail Blazer

    Trailblazers assist CELM staff and Trail Bosses blazing and trimming trails. Trailblazer workdays are scheduled at various preserves throughout Hillsborough County on the second Saturday of every month. Workdays are usually scheduled from 8 AM – 12 PM

    Duties:

    • Trim trails
    • Blaze and mark trails
    • Assist with the installation of trail markers and signs
    • Provide feedback and suggestions to improve trails

    Requirements:
    • All ages welcome (under 18 must be accompanied by parent or guardian)
    • Must be able to walk/hike up to 4-6 miles (Most workdays require 2-3 miles of hiking/walking)
    • Must sign the online Waiver of Liability form
      • Parent or guardian must fill out and submit the form for participants under 18 years of age
  3. Trail Boss

    After attending at least five trail maintenance work days as a Trailblazer and a one-day Trail Boss training class, you are eligible to become a Trail Boss. Trail Bosses can complete Work Orders on their own without CELM staff supervision to flag new trail routes, blaze new trails, trim trails, lead other volunteers, and perform other general trail maintenance tasks. Trail Boss designations will be classified as Level one and Level two. Trail Boss rewards remain the same regardless of level.

    Trail Boss Level 1 and 2:

    • Level 1: independently perform trail maintenance tasks such as refreshing blazes and light trail trimming with hand tools.
    • Requirements: attend one work day as a Trail Blazer and complete training.
    • Level 2: independently complete minor construction projects and install trail posts.
    • Requirements: attend five work days as a Trail Blazer and complete training.

    Duties:

    • Lead volunteer workdays and ensure that trails are marked and maintained according to CELM’s Public Trails SOP
    • Work independently to address issues identified by Trail Scouts--trimming trails, remarking blazes, replacing posts, etc.


    View Available Projects

    Requirements:
    • Must complete a volunteer application and pass a background check
    • Must be over the age of 18
    • Must complete the Trail Boss Orientation and Training Program
    • Must follow CELM Public Trails SOP and coordinate all work with CELM staff

Want to get involved?

Email Chris Kiddy for more information and get information about upcoming trail workdays.