Trail Academy

Elevate your trail-building skills with our free Trail Academy class series.


What is Trail Academy?

Trail Academy is our free class series that teaches students how to tackle any trail-related challenge. Courses are hosted both in the field and online, and are a great starting point for anyone looking to become a certified Trail Crew Leader or Trail Sage.

Upcoming Trail Academy courses will be found on our Events page here.

Our 2023/2024 Course Schedule

  • Trail Academy 222: Basic Trail Maintenance-Brushing, Drain Clearing, and Grade Reversals

Saturday, 12/9 from 9-3 p.m.

  • Trail Academy TCL: Trail Crew Leader Training Online Coursework 1

Thursday, 2/8 from 6-8 p.m.

  • Trail Academy TCL: Trail Crew Leader Training Online Coursework 2

Thursday, 2/15 from 6-8 p.m.

  • Trail Academy TCL: Trail Crew Leader Training Online Coursework 3

Thursday, 2/22 from 6-8 p.m.

  • Trail Academy TCL: Trail Crew Leader Training Field Coursework

Saturday, 2/24 from 9-3 p.m.

  • Trail Academy TCL: Trail Crew Leader Training Field Coursework

Sunday, 2/25 from 9-3 p.m.

Why Participate?

Trail Academy courses teach you to see beyond the trail tread and dig with confidence. You’ll gain deep expertise into trail design and construction concepts, and learn to diagnose trail challenges. See trails in a different light, and take what you learn to your next volunteer trail work event or heck, even your own backyard.

Through our special Trail Crew Leader training courses, you’ll uplevel your skills and become certified to lead groups of volunteers at special SCMTS events. Join our community of sustainable trail experts by attending our next Trail Academy class!

One of my favorite aspects of Trail Academy is that it builds a sense of stewardship in the trail user community.

-Tom Wilson, SCMTS Trail Crew Leader, Class of 2014

Join Trail Academy Today

Elevate your trail-building skills with Trail Academy. Whether you're new to the world of trail building or seeking to refine your expertise, our comprehensive courses and hands-on field trainings will equip you for success.

Field trainings will be tentatively scheduled in tandem with our Dig Days in 2024 (second Saturdays of the month), and online and in-person classes will be held once a month. Check out our events calendar or sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on upcoming events.

Our Favorite Trail Academy Photos

Our Full Online Course Catalog

Our engaging online classes last about 1-2 hours each. Our curriculum is meticulously designed to cater to varying experience levels, making it a valuable resource for beginners and seasoned trail enthusiasts alike. Peruse our online offerings below:

  • 101 - Introduction to Trails: Embark on your journey with this foundational course. Delve into the history and significance of trails, gaining insight into trail concepts that form the bedrock of more advanced courses.

  • 121 - Introduction to Trail Maintenance: Understand the critical role maintenance plays in trail longevity. Learn how to identify and mitigate trail damage, ensuring user safety and trail sustainability.

  • 131 - Trail Systems Planning: Uncover the secrets behind successful trail system planning. Balancing recreational needs with environmental concerns, and understanding user desires are just a few aspects covered in this course.

  • 132 - Sustainable Trail Design: Master the art of sustainable trail design. Explore techniques to create trails that withstand the test of time and minimize environmental impact.

  • 141 - Trail Construction: Immerse yourself in the world of trail construction. From tools and techniques to finishing touches, this course equips you with the knowledge to build trails that harmonize with their surroundings.

  • 211 - Maintenance Planning and Trail Assessment: Learn about common maintenance issues and what regular maintenance needs to be performed to keep trails in their best shape.

  • 311 - Trails in Challenging Terrain: Learn to identify significant challenges to the construction or maintenance of trails, including rocky soils, steep hillsides, significant elevation changes, easily eroded soils, seeps and springs, wetlands, flat areas, and places with biological or cultural significance.

  • 501 - Managing Volunteers: Become a volunteer management expert. Learn to plan events, engage volunteers, and create a positive working environment that encourages continued involvement..

Our Full Field Training Catalog

  • 221 - Trail Maintenance Assessments: Apply your assessment skills gained from online classes to real-world trails. Learn to identify issues, devise solutions, and prioritize tasks for maximum impact.

  • 222 - Basic Trail Maintenance-Brushing, Drain Clearing, and Grade Reversals: Master essential maintenance tasks like brushing, drain clearing, and grade reversal construction. Enhance trail user experience and ensure proper water flow.

  • 223 - Trail Maintenance-Tread and Berm Repair: Address common tread problems and berm issues with confidence. Keep trails in optimal condition for users by learning effective repair techniques.

  • 224 - Trail Rerouting, Reclamation, Closure, and Decommissioning: Discover strategies to reroute and close trails when necessary. Learn how to prevent user-created trails and ensure environmental preservation.

  • 225 - Pump Track Maintenance: Unlock the secrets to maintaining dirt pump tracks. Learn about tools, moisture management, and special coatings to keep pump tracks in prime condition.


Become a Member

Become a member of SCMTS! Join thousands of members who provide a reliable stream of support as we build and maintain sustainable trails throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.