Paid to Hike: Be an AT Ridgerunner

Do you dream of getting paid to hike? Want an outdoor office with an ever-changing view?

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is accepting applications for 2011 seasonal Caretakers and Ridgerunners, the organization's roving on-the trail educators and maintainers.

ATC Caretakers remain at specific overnight sites on the AT, while Ridgerunners are assigned to hike specific sections of the trail. Both positions meet and greet the public, and inform visitors about the AT and its intended primitive experience, its location, regulations, and traditions.

The jobs might not be as glamorous as you think. You'll pack out other people's trash or might discover that someone pulled up a step and burned it. But, caretakers and ridgerunners help encourage the best behavior on the part of hikers and to facilitate a positive trail experience. They're also on the front lines of the impact battle, teaching Leave No Trace principles and monitoring conditions.

If you're interested, you'll need extensive backpacking skills, excellent communication and education skills, and the ability to deal with the public, even under stressful conditions.

Get more info and the 2011 ATC Ridgerunner-Caretaker Application (Word download) on the ATC site.

[Image of North Carolina/Tennessee, Big Bald by David J. Burke, courtesy of Appalachian Trail Conservancy] 


Filed under: People & Organizations


775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts
December 17, 2010 at 3:56 p.m. (EST)

Oh, how ever so tempting! But being married and having a mortgage kinda kicks a big ol' sabot in the works for me ;)

1,711 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts
December 17, 2010 at 6:15 p.m. (EST)

Hmmmm... This might just be what the doctor ordered for me. Thanks Alicia.

denis daly
271 reviewer rep
1,869 forum posts
December 17, 2010 at 9:13 p.m. (EST)

Oh, how ever so tempting! But being married and having a mortgage kinda kicks a big ol' sabot in the works for me ;)

Gonzan have to agree it does have draw backs for alot of people economically. I was rather lucky to have employer's who value me and my work. I got the sabatical and they are more than gracious to me in support. i have a morgage like yourself but , I am working within a budget I can maintain. ( Single)  if I were married I think that would end my trip.

Alicia this is a great oppertunity for alot of people. I found an old analysis that 20-30 yr olds are the main entity of the thru hikers . financially they are the ones who lack the funds and have to give up while hiking. I was online with someone 2 days ago trying to help them figure cost. I am going to pass your post along It may help alot of them. thanks for the Info.

14 reviewer rep
318 forum posts
December 18, 2010 at 1:51 p.m. (EST)

I looked into a similiar program for the PCT last summer. They didn't pay very much. In fact I think I would be able to make more working at Burger King. I think they were relying on the college credits that were available to get workers.

I think it would be interesting to get the Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace training just for fun.


0 reviewer rep
20 forum posts
December 26, 2010 at 9:25 a.m. (EST)

DrReaper - you might have been able to make more money working at Burger King - but there's more to life than making money - especially for a young person - the discipline and experience of taking on a load of responsibility in the woods for a season, learning to deal with a wide variety of other people under sometimes stressful situations, learning self reliance - man - you cannot put a price tag on that!

denis daly
271 reviewer rep
1,869 forum posts
December 26, 2010 at 11:08 a.m. (EST)

Statdoc- have to agree with you!!! It's an oppertunity for a person to develop. Money isn't everything in life. Yes you need it but today's society alot of people forget to ask themselve's whens ENOUGH enough. MYO your correct this builds great character and responcibility. I also look at it as it affords some people to Section hike the AT affordably. And there is no price tag on that...

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