Wilderness Service and Local Life in the Green Mountain State, Vermont

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14293A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Work to help preserve the 24,924-acre Breadloaf Wilderness
  • Experience the beauty of the Green Mountains
  • Enjoy locally sourced foods


  • Transportation to and from Burlington, VT airport
  • Campground fees
  • Hearty and tasty meals


DatesAug 17–22, 2014
StaffMark Nelson

Trip Overview

The Trip

The Breadloaf Wilderness was created in 1984 and consists of almost 25,000 acres. Breadloaf is the largest of the wilderness areas in the Green Mountain National Forest and takes its name from Breadloaf Mountain (3,835 feet). Vermont’s Presidential Range runs through Breadloaf -- Mounts Wilson, Roosevelt, Cleveland and Grant. Although you can still see some evidence of past logging, the forest is regenerating and many wildlife species live in the Breadloaf Wilderness. Moose, black bear, and white-tailed deer live in the wilderness along with coyotes, fox, and beavers. Birds range from grouse, hawks, and owls to various finches, pine sisken, and the evening grosbeak. The Long Trail and many side trails are in the Breadloaf Wilderness, in addition to the Catamount Cross-Country Ski Trail.

During the trip, we will set up a base camp near the wilderness and prepare our meals using locally sourced foods. When not working, we will explore a few special places in the Green Mountain National Forest, visit a Vermont artist gallery, and a local craft brewery.

The Project

Many of the trails in the Breadloaf Wilderness have been severally damaged due to recent heavy storms. There are many important tasks that may be included in this project. Depending on what the USFS deems as the priorities, we may perform trail work, ranging from trail repair, to building and cleaning water bars, to assisting with bridge construction. Other work, such as clearing invasive species, may also be included. There will be opportunities to learn new skills and work together as a team. Participants should be in good physical condition in order to safely perform the work as well as to carry the tools to and from the work sites.


Day 1: Participants will be picked up at the Burlington airport and transported to the base campsite. We will set up camp, get to know each other, have a trip orientation, and prepare dinner.

Days 2-5: On the second day, we will go to the USFS office to get briefed on the work and location of our service project. Each day, we will prepare a group breakfast and make our sack lunches before departing camp. Depending on the work difficulty and the location, we will attempt to include time to visit local areas in the forest, such as Texas Falls for short hikes and photo opportunities. Dinner will be prepared at the campsite each night.

There will be one day when we will only work a half day. On that afternoon, we will visit the town of Middlebury, which is home to Middlebury College. While in town, we will visit a local artist gallery and various shops in town. On the way back to camp, we will stop at a local craft brewery. A special dinner will be prepared in camp that night.

Day 6: After preparing breakfast and breaking camp, participants will be shuttled to the airport to say their goodbyes and return home.



Getting There

The Breadloaf Wilderness is in the central part of Vermont. Driving directions will be provided to all participants. There will be shuttle cars from Burlington airport for those who fly in.

Accommodations and Food

We will set up a base camp in a park area close to the wilderness and the work site. There will be fire rings and common areas with tables as well as showers (coin operated) and camp privies. Meals will be provided from dinner on the first day through breakfast on the last day. All participants will take turns assisting with food preparation and clean up. Meals will generally have meat, but there will be vegetarian options.

Trip Difficulty

This is a moderate trip. The hikes will be from one to three miles uphill to the work areas, and each participant will need to carry at least one tool on most days. Participants should be in good physical shape in order to comfortably put in a full day's work. We will make every effort to match the work to your skills and abilities. Participants' health and safety concerns will always come first. If you come with a good attitude, team spirit, and willingness to get your hands dirty, you will have a great time helping to improve the wilderness for others to enjoy.

Equipment and Clothing

Since we are base camping, you will need a tent, sleeping bag, and your own eating utensils. You will need to have broken-in hiking boots with ankle support as well as appropriate layers and rain gear to accommodate the uncertain mountain weather. Clothing should be synthetic or wool in order to retain heat when it gets wet. You should not bring any cotton clothing for working in the field. You will also need a set of heavy work gloves and a sturdy daypack for carrying your water and lunches each day. A detailed equipment list will be provided to each participant.




We will be working with Green Mountain National Forest staff. During our trip, we will learn about the plants and wildlife in the area as well as the threats to the wilderness area. We will always follow Leave No Trace practices while on the trail.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Green Mountain National Forest.



Mark Nelson has been hiking and backpacking for many years and is a lifetime member of the Sierra Club. He enjoys helping others explore the beauty of backcountry areas and learn about the importance of preserving them. When not exploring the great outdoors, Mark is active on not-for-profit boards and the VT Sierra Club Exec Committee, and is a volunteer for the local fire and rescue. In addition to backpacking, Mark enjoys biking, cross-country skiing, and listening to many types of music.

Contact the Staff

Type the characters you see in this picture.
Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Try Another Trip

By Date