Job Summary:

Live and work in the backcountry this summer in some of the wildest places in Colorado! The Backcountry Youth Trail Crew Leader is a position offered in partnership with the US Forest Service Paonia Ranger District. Crew leaders will train and supervise the Backcountry Youth Trail Crew made up of high school students (16-18 year olds) in maintaining Forest Service trails in the Kebler Pass area of the Gunnison National Forest outside Paonia, Colorado. You will work in the rugged West Elk Wilderness and the Raggeds Wilderness, clearing downed timber, supervising youth and making trails accessible to the public. This position can open many doors working for land management agencies.


Ensure the success of trail construction and maintenance projects on backcountry and wilderness trails in the Gunnison National Forest
Responsible for decision-making and risk management for up to four high school-aged youth during overnight hitches
Represent the U.S. Forest Service and positively interact with the public at trailhead and backcountry campsites
Manage pre- and post-trip logistics for all overnight hitches with the crew including food, route planning, tool/gear checkout and inventory
Mentor diverse youth in a dynamic outdoor setting
Safely operate hand tools including crosscut saws, axes, pulaskis, shovels and pick mattocks
Drive a loaded 4×4 truck on remote mountain roads in varying conditions
Perform manual labor in alpine weather conditions (temperatures above 90+ degrees, frequent thunderstorms, wind, hail and rain)
Other duties as assigned
Position reports directly to the USFS Paonia Ranger District Recreation Manager

Openings: 2 positions available


$13-$16 per hour depending on experience and qualifications
Training and certification in chainsaw use, crosscut saw use, government vehicle operation and horse and mule use
Food stipend will be provided for backcountry hitches
Shared bunkhouse in Paonia available
Location: Report to Paonia Ranger District Office in Paonia, CO

Effective Date: Open until filled; Priority given to applications received by March 15th; Paid-training will start tentatively May 14th, 2022


Season dates tentatively May 14 – August 12, 2022
Typical schedule is four days/week; Thursday-Sunday including overnights

Tagged as: Backcountry Skills, Trail Supervisor, Crew, and Leaders


Preferred Qualifications:

Wilderness First Responder, CPR or other medical training. Opportunity for paid medical training May 14th-15th, 2022
Experience working with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or National Park Service, Youth Conservation Corps or other relevant outdoor stewardship experience
Familiarity with tool and equipment maintenance (sharpening, sanding, oiling, re-handling)
Background leading, coaching, or mentoring youth

Required Skills:

Minimum Requirements:

18 and older
Drivers license with clean record
Prior trail construction or maintenance experience (2 seasons preferred)
Demonstrated experience in backcountry travel and outdoor leadership skills
Ability to carry 50+ lbs while hiking 5-10 miles a day in high altitude environments
Ability to lift 50 lbs unassisted and 100 lbs assisted
1-2 years working/teaching youth in an outdoor environment
Familiarity with the West Elks or other alpine Colorado Rocky Mountain ecosystems

About The Nature Connection

The Nature Connection is the hub of outdoor education and recreation for Delta County and Olathe, and is supported by the Delta County School District.

Our mission is to eliminate barriers to getting outside for youth and families in our community.

We are a not-for-profit organization and our current grant implementation project is funded by the Great Outdoors Colorado Generation Wild Initiative.

Application Instructions

Please Submit: Resume with cover letter submitted to [email protected] Three professional references Top candidates will be selected for an interview by Paonia Ranger District Staff and the Nature Connection