Backcountry Corpsmember

Backcountry Trails Program

various locations, California

Job Type AmeriCorps
Salary Details $2814/month plus a $3447 education award upon completion
Required Experience 0 - 1 years
2022 Kings Canyon crew


The Backcountry Trails Program is a highly structured, paid, service and development program for young adults that focuses on trailwork, community, and wilderness exploration.  At 44 years and counting we are the longest-running special program of the California Conservation Corps, and have also been partnered with AmeriCorps for over 25 years.

We are looking for 80 diverse young adults ages 18-25 who are willing to leave behind the conveniences of modern life and venture into the mountains to spend five months doing some of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding work of their lives.  Members spend five continuous months living and working on a trail crew in the wilderness of California.  Locations vary, but often include Sierra parks and forests such as Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Stanislaus, and Inyo (Miwok, Monache, and Paiute lands), and northern California mountain ranges including Klamath and Shasta-Trinity national forests (Wintu, Tsnungwe, Karuk, and Shasta lands)

Members do not need any prior trail work or backpacking experience to join, but it is essential that members are willing to work very hard, safely, with minimal supervision, and produce quality work.  The program provides training in technical work skills, backcountry living, wilderness first aid and more, and can provide almost all personal backpacking gear necessary for the season to those who do not wish or are unable to purchase their own.  Food, housing (camping), and health insurance are provided ($500 monthly deduction for food costs).

Backcountry camps are located anywhere from 1 - 30 miles from the nearest road, store, phone, or electrical outlet, at elevations up to 12,000 feet. Camps are extremely rudimentary.  Food, mail, and other supplies are delivered by pack mules once a week.  Meals are provided.  The food is great, and there is lots of it!  Please note though that we may not be able to accommodate highly restrictive diets. 

We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for all our members.  Committing to five months in the wilderness with a bunch of strangers is daunting!  Our crews consist of a mix of CCC and web hires from widely diverse backgrounds, led by supervisors with years of experience in both trail work and youth development.  We recognize that outdoor work and recreation have a long history of exclusion, and we hope that the opportunity our program provides can be one avenue toward creating more inclusive outdoor spaces.

The program is designed as an entryway into conservation, natural resource, and other outdoor work, however, a conservation background is not required. We welcome applicants of all backgrounds and interests! Crews spend their work days performing trail work that includes cutting brush with loppers and handsaws, digging with shovels and picks, clearing fallen trees with crosscut saws, and using metal rock bars, sledgehammers, and gear-assisted grip-hoists to move large rocks and logs and build trail structures.  In addition to technical trail skills, members learn wilderness living and travel skills and receive Wilderness First Aid certification.

In addition to on-the-job training and experience, members live and work closely with staff from our partner agencies, which gives them the chance to network, ask questions, and gain valuable insights that give them a leg up in the highly competitive outdoor field.  Upon completion of the program our members qualify for non-competitive Federal hiring status, which grants them priority hiring status for qualifying Federal jobs.  Most of our alumni have gone on to work for other outdoor organizations for one or more seasons, including the NPS, USFS, and State Parks. 

The BCTP also focuses strongly on personal growth and development.  Our program is extremely physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.  Members live with their crew in an isolated, rudimentary backcountry camp for the duration of the season, and are expected to participate in camp chores and curriculum in addition to work.  Evening curriculum may include topics like native fauna and flora identification, natural history, wilderness survival, wilderness first aid, career development, community building, and health and safety.  There is very little unstructured time, especially during the work week, and the only outside communication is by snail mail.  There are strict buddy-system, sobriety, and non-fraternization policies that are in place for the entire season, including weekends.  The work is hard, the living conditions are uncomfortable, the interpersonal relationships are trying, and the standards are high.  As a result, our alumni consistently rate themselves higher in self-confidence, community-building, self-discipline, reliability, and physical fitness at the end of the season than they did before.

Backcountry seasons are tough, but they’re also fun! Crews create events, celebrate holidays, and bond with each other through music, conversation, art, games, and shared experiences.  Members are also strongly encouraged to explore on the weekends, and get a rare chance to experience the wilderness in a way that few are able to.  We regularly hear from alumni who say that their Backcountry season was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences they’ve ever had.


  • Be a Permanent Resident, U.S. National, or U.S. Citizen. Applicants do not need to be California residents.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 25 years old by the start of the program (late April).
  • Not be subject to probation or parole conditions that would prevent the applicant from fully participating in the program (i.e., being restricted from traveling throughout the state on short notice and for extended periods, working with or around inmates, working with CCC tools, working in remote areas with limited and/or no access to electronic communication).
  • Clear all components of the criminal history background check prior to start of program which includes: FBI national, California DOJ, state of residence if other than California, and National Sex Offender Public Website.
  • Pass a pre-enrollment drug test (urine test) upon arrival at orientation.
  • Pass a pre-enrollment medical physical demonstrating applicant is physically and mentally able to perform the essential function of the position.
  • Must be able start and finish on the established program dates and have no reason to leave the program barring personal and family emergencies, personal resignation, or behavior-based separation.
  • Must have a valid e-mail address.
  • CCC Corpsmembers cannot be simultaneously enrolled in two AmeriCorps programs, such as Corps Network EAP and Backcountry Trails Programs. Corpsmembers must exit all other AmeriCorps programs no later than the first day of the season.
  • Current and former CCC Corpsmembers who will exceed 36 months of CCC service during the season must apply for an extension through their current or former center prior to enrollment in the Backcountry Trails Program. 


  • Pay is $2814/month, plus a $3447 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award upon completion.
  • $500 per month is taken from each paycheck for food.  Health insurance, housing (camping), and Wilderness First Aid certification are provided for free.
  • The 2024 season starts on April 21st and ends on September 25th.  You must be able to start and end on these dates.
  • This is a special program, not a regular trail job!  Participants are required to adhere to program policies, like the buddy system, sobriety, and non-fraternization, as well as participate in after-work crew activities.


Phone: 707-601-5617 or 707-572-8752

Email: backcountrytrails@ccc.ca.gov 

Online: linktree.com/backcountrytrails

Sign up for an online information session! https://form.jotform.com/232824336691056


Apply online at https://form.jotform.com/232824324559157

If you have any questions, email us at backcountrytrails@ccc.ca.gov or call 707-601-5617 or 707-572-8752

Applications close February 19, 2024

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category General / Stewardship, Outdoor Recreation
Tags Conservation Corps, Trail Maintenance