• Views from the Continental Divide Trail on the Montana and Idaho border near Monida Pass. Photo by Meg Killen

Volunteer on the CDT

Home Our Work Stewarding the CDT Volunteer on the CDT
Photo by Meg Killen

Volunteer on a CDT Montana Trail Project

2016 Volunteer Trails Projects - IT'S A WRAP! 

2016 proved to be one of our most successful years yet! Another summer of playing in the dirt, feasting on hearty backcountry meals, and laughing around the campfire. A big shout out to all the volunteers who gave their time, energy and skills to complete this summer's projects above and beyond expectations and in spite of sometimes challenging Montana summer weather conditions. 

Stay tuned for March 2017, when we will release next summer's project schedule. 

2016 CDT Montana Projects 

Project Name Dates Location Difficulty* Space
CDT #1 - MYCA 2016  Beaverhead-Deerlodge Moderate* complete
CDT #2 - Granite Butte I June 12-17 Lincoln Ranger District Moderate-Strenuous* complete
CDT #3 - Welcome Creek June 18-25 Scapegoat Wilderness Moderate* complete
CDT #4 - Granite Butte II June 17-22 Lincoln Ranger District Moderate-Strenuous* complete
CDT #7 - MT Academy 2016 Helena-Lewis and Clark Moderate* complete
CDT #8 - Elk Park July 15-23 Anaconda Pintler Wilderness Strenuous* complete
CDT #9 - Flower Lake July 29-Aug 6 Anaconda Pintler Wilderness Strenuous* complete
CDT #10 - Blair Lake  July 29-Aug 6 Centennial Range, BLM Strenuous* complete
CDT #11 - Ladies Trip Aug 12-20 Anaconda Pintler Wilderness Strenuous* complete
CDT #12 - Lion Lake Aug 13-20 Big Hole/AP Wilderness Strenuous* complete
CDT #13 - 50 Mountain Trail Aug 16-26 Glacier National Park Strenuous* complete
CDT #14 - Shoshone Lake Aug 27-Sept 2 Yellowstone National Park Moderate* complete
CDT #15 - Elbow Mountain Sept 2-10 Badger Two Medicine Very Strenuous* complete


Project Deposits

What? I have to pay to volunteer?

Yes. Well, kind of.

A great deal of logistical work goes into each of our projects, and we are counting on our volunteers to show up. This deposit helps ensure that they do. Based on the complexity and duration of the project, trip deposits start at $50 (usually car camping trips), $75 (backcountry projects), and $100 (projects with complex logistics).

Please remember that project deposits are refundable. Once you complete your volunteer CDT project, you'll have the option to donate your deposit or request a refund. 


If you cancel less than one month before the project start date, your deposit will be considered a donation to MWA's CDT Montana program and will be used to offset the expense we will have to incur to find your replacement on the crew. Thank you for your understanding. 

Waiting Lists 

Those projects listed as "Waitlist" means they are at capacity, but you can still register and be added to the wait list. You'll still have to provide a refundable project deposit. In the event of a cancellation, we will begin calling everyone on the wait list. The first to respond and accept the position will be added to the confirmed list. MWA will refund your project deposit if you aren't added to the confirmed list. We will also gladly accept deposits as donations to the CDT Montana trail program. At this point, for projects listed as "FULL", we are no longer accepting applications, as our waitlist is also quite full. 

Physical Abilty - Please Be Honest

It's extremely important that you select a project that is aligned with your physical abilty. It's also important that you read our online FAQs section before registering. To ensure your safety and the safety of the entire crew, you must be prepared for the level of difficulty of the project you select. Keep in mind that you'll be working full days in the field, and you must be able to work for the duration of the project. All volunteer registrations will be reviewed in detail, and we'll be giving special attention to those who sign up for projects that are "strenuous" and "very strenuous." CDT Montana staff will, if need be, kindly recommend that you sign up for another project that is better suited to your experience and physical abilty. Please call us if you're unsure how your skills might align with our project work. Thank you in advance for your understanding. 

Here is what you can expect from projects with these levels of difficulty: 

  • Moderate: Day hikes covering 2-5 miles on moderate terrain and 1000 feet gain in elevation, carrying a day pack weighing 10 to 15 pounds.
  • Moderate/Strenuous: Weekend car-camping with day hikes covering 4-8 miles on varied terrain, carrying packs weighing 20 pounds.
  • Strenuous: Weekend backcountry trips covering 6-12 miles a day on rough terrain, carrying "fullish" pack weighing 30-50 pounds
  • Very Strenuous: Weeklong backcountry trip covering 15 miles a day with large gains in elevation and carrying full packs weighing 50-60 pounds.
Volunteer Positions

Trail Crew Volunteer
Join us in the field to swing a tool, move dirt, or build a new structure. CDT Montana projects range from moderate to very strenuous, from one day to 10 days, staying anywhere from car campsites to primitive sites in the backcountry.  

Give us a call if we can offer more details. We can help you choose the volunteer project that is right for you. It's important that you pull your weight, but learning new skills and having new experiences are what CDT Montana volunteer projects are all about. 


Camp Cook
Want to join a field project, but not interested in all the heavy lifting. Then volunteer as a camp cook. 

We need camp cooks for car camping and backcountry projects. CDT Montana provides the budget, menu suggestions, kitchen gear, and hungry volunteers. You help with the food shopping, menu planning, and on-site chef skills. Two cooks are often better than one, so bring a friend! If you're interested in this position, call us at 406.499.2309. Check out our Camp Cook page as well.

Volunteer Packer 
Nearly half of our trail projects take place in the backcountry, anywhere from four to 18 miles from the nearest trailhead. We are therefore very grateful for our packing friends.We are used to working with horse and mule strings, but we're not opposed to llamas, goats, or big dogs that can pack our gear into the backcountry. 

The Back Country Horsemen of Montana and its various clubs have given us amazing pack support over the years. If you're interested in packing, we'd love to chat with you! We schedule most of our packing trips in February and March, well before the summer projects. All packers must be currently certified in USFS Defensive Horsemenship Training. For more information, check out our Packer Page here.