Kit Carson Volunteer Week

Looking for a challenging, rewarding, and fun backcountry trailwork adventure? Volunteer Week at Kit Carson is a 6-day work trip for volunteers up for an extended stay in the high country and assisting with RMFI's multi-year project to construct a safe and sustainable trail system from the Willow Lake Basin of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the summits of Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point. Volunteers will make a lasting impact on this fragile environment that is experiencing increased visitation due to the increasing popularity and allure of climbing 14,000 foot peaks. 

The fourth highest mountain in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, Kit Carson Peak (14,165) towers 6,000 feet above the San Luis Valley floor. Kit Carson generally refers to the three main summits that make up the massif: Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, and Columbia Point (informally known as Kat Carson). These peaks and Willow Lake Basin are a popular recreation spot for hikers, climbers, anglers, and backcountry enthusiasts. The Sangre de Cristo mountain range is a long, narrow and rugged range running from Southern Colorado into Northern New Mexico. The Colorado portion is 115 miles long and only a few miles at its most narrow width. The Sangre de Cristo range is home to ten 14,000-foot peaks and is a popular destination for a variety of backcountry recreation enthusiasts.
The Kit Carson-Challenger Ridge Trail Project is designed to manage the high-use impacts within this area. Work completed during this project will not only reduce the impact of visitors on this fragile ecosystem, but will enhance the quality of the recreational experience by creating a new, sustainably-designed route for summiting Kit Carson and Challenger Point. 


Volunteers and RMFI staff will work out of a basecamp located in the Willow Lake Basin at approximately 11,500 ft. This is a remote backcountry location. The base camp will be fully equipped – all group equipment, including base tent, stoves, and kitchen supplies, as well as all meals will be provided by RMFI. RMFI prides itself on providing volunteers with hearty, nutritious, and delicious meals to fuel tough trailbuilding at high altitude! Participants are expected to help cook and partake in camp chores.

Volunteers must supply their own personal outdoor gear. Loaner tents, sleeping bags, and pads are available upon request, on a first-come first-served basis. Volunteers may be asked to buddy-up in tents to make best use of available space. Volunteers will make use of the RMFI-provided carry-in/carry-out solid waste (WAG) system.


Monday, September 10: Volunteers will meet RMFI staff at the Willow Creek Trailhead near the town of Crestone, CO. We will hike the steep and strenuous ~5 miles up the trail to our basecamp at Willow Lake. Volunteers will help set up camp then get an orientation to the worksite.

September 11 - 14: Complete project objectives: Re-route unsustainable segments of the existing trail and reconstruct and stabilize desirable segments. Enjoy delicious meals after a hard day of work. Relax, hike, recreate, and sleep in the crisp mountain air. One of these four days will be reserved for recreation so that volunteers may take the time to summit the peaks if they so choose. 

Saturday, September 15: Finish project objectives, pack up camp, and head home. 

Maximum enrollment in this program is eight (8) participants. Sign up early!


  • This is a very strenuous program. Participants must complete the online application which includes questions pertaining to medical history, outdoor experience, and physical conditioning. (See link to apply above.) 
  • There is a nonrefundable $25 application fee to assist with covering costs of this program. 
  • Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • No prior experience is necessary. However, participants must be in excellent physical condition and comfortable living and doing manual labor at elevations of 12,500+ feet in a remote mountain setting. 
  • Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the Willow Creek Trailhead. (We are happy to assist with conneting volunteers for possible carpooling.)

Questions? Contact Molly Mazel, Volunteer & Partnership Coordinator, [email protected], (719) 471-7736 ext. 4#   

September 10th, 2018 7:00 AM through September 15th, 2018 4:00 PM
Phone: 719-471-7736 ext. 4#

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