Project goal: Improve trails in Yosemite Valley and the Yosemite Wilderness while providing young adults with hands-on experience, employment and education.

Why this work matters: Yosemite’s 800-mile trail network offers endless opportunities for day hikers and backpackers to experience the wonders of the Sierra Nevada. Keeping those trails in good shape, however, requires regular restoration work.

For decades, with support from our donors, Yosemite has partnered with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) to engage young adults (ages 18–25) in much-needed trail projects, as they spend a season working with and learning from world-class National Park Service crews.

The 2020 CCC Merced crew works on clearing brush from the trail to Ostrander Lake. Photo: Courtesy of NPS (July 2020)

The 2020 CCC Merced crew works on clearing brush from the trail to Ostrander Lake. Photo: Courtesy of NPS (July 2020).

While living and working in the park, corps members improve dozens of miles of hiking terrain, starting in more developed frontcountry areas and then moving into the wilderness. They clear brush and fallen logs; repair damage, such as rain-carved ruts and failing tread; and construct rock walls, steps and drainage features — all while building teamwork and deep connections to the natural world.

CCC crews play a key role in ensuring Yosemite’s trails can provide safe, enjoyable hiking experiences. Their work also helps prevent erosion, protect trailside vegetation, and encourage people to stay on designated routes, so they don’t inadvertently trample plants and soil.

Along the way, corpsmembers hone restoration skills; learn about environmental science, geology and park history; and gain valuable experience that can help them in future careers.

How your support helps: In 2020, your gifts are providing critical support to continue the Yosemite–CCC partnership and enable a crew of young adults to complete a season of restoration work, skill-building and educational seminars in the Merced River watershed. With your support, the CCC Merced crew will improve trails in and around Yosemite Valley and in the Yosemite Wilderness, fostering a sense of stewardship that will live on well after their season in the park.

Photo of a worker on the Snow Creak Trail in Yosemite.

Summer trail work on the Snow Creek Trail. Photo: Courtesy of NPS.

Update from the field: As of mid-July, the 2020 CCC Merced crew had completed rehabilitation work on more than 30 miles of trails in and around Yosemite Valley, including on the Valley Loop, Mirror Lake, Four Mile and Yosemite Falls trails. Their efforts helped repair damage from winter storms and ensure that popular trails were ready for the summer season.

Photo of a worker on the Snow Creek Trail in Yosemite, with Half Dome in the background.

Performing much-needed upkeep on the Snow Creek Trail’s switchbacks. Photo: Courtesy of NPS.

The crew is spending the remainder of their season, which runs through September, camped and working in the backcountry. They’re planning to focus on the Red Peak Pass area, near Yosemite’s southern boundary, and on popular hiking and backpacking areas northeast of the Valley, including Clouds Rest, Sunrise Lakes and Cathedral Pass. Check back later this year for more highlights from the corpsmembers’ wilderness work!

Partnering with Yosemite National Park and California Conservation Corps.

Dave Kari

Trails Supervisor, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Unmaintained trails can cause soil compaction, vegetation loss, compositional changes of vegetation, and water drainage issues that lead to muddy trails. Erosion can cause degraded water quality which, in turn, can disrupt aquatic wildlife. By maintaining trail systems within the Merced River watershed we are protecting natural resources there."