Calling All Appalachian Trail Champions

Trail Champions, the Campaign for the Maine Trail Center, will create a permanent home for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.


When you consider the grand scale and beauty of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail — stretching 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine — it’s easy to overlook the fact there are people responsible for maintaining all those miles of trail so hikers can safely enjoy them.

Many people travel from around the world to work on the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s Maine Trail Crew repairing and restoring the trail. This supports the work of dedicated volunteer maintainers who clear fallen trees, repaint faded blazes and signs, maintain remote privies and lean-tos, and train the next generation of trail stewards.

Yet despite this extraordinary responsibility, the MATC relies on space in garages and trailers to store equipment and house crew members in tents. In fact, the Maine Trail Crew has relocated six times over the last 30 years because it does not have a base of operations, says Lester Kenway, chair of Trail Champions, the Campaign for the Maine Trail Center.

The Maine Trail Center will be the first-ever permanent homebase if the MATC reaches its $2.19 million fundraising goal. Centrally located to the entire A.T. in Skowhegan, the Maine Trail Center will also host educational programs to train trail professionals and youth. To date, Trail Champions has the endorsement of more than twenty conservation-focused organizations and has raised $1.7 million from over 400 donors, including a $200,000 gift from L.L.Bean.

The Maine Trail Center will feature passive solar and other green energy design features, as well as a kitchen, housing with overnight capacity of 34, showers, laundry, an office, tent areas, equipment storage, an outdoor workspace, and a parking lot. The Center will be operated on a seasonal basis for the Maine Trail Crew, while being a flexible space for a wide range of functions, meetings, and trainings. 

“If the Trail Champions Campaign for the Maine Trail Center were a thru-hike, we are approaching Katahdin!” Kenway says of the campaign’s progress.

Due to inflation, labor, and supply-chain issues, capital campaigns across the country have had to increase campaign goals, including Trail Champions. “But we’re very encouraged by and grateful for the support we have behind this project,” Kenway says. “We just need a few more Trail Champions to join us. A gift today will bring the MATC one step closer to making the Maine Trail Center a reality.”

To learn more about Trail Champions and how to make a tax-deductible gift, visit