Be Part of Something Big

Join Us!

Join the PATC

Take up the challenge of public service and stewardship. Act by helping to protect and preserve our public footpaths. We look forward to welcoming you into our fellowship.

Chances are that the trails you use in the Mid-Atlantic region are maintained by volunteers from PATC. Our members strive to keep your path clear so that you can more fully enjoy your outdoor experiences.

The next time you are striding along on a trail, look in any random direction through the forest. That is what a trail would look like in a very short time without diligent trail maintenance.

 How about the trailside shelter you had lunch or overnighted in, or used to escape a storm?

 PATC volunteers built and maintain it.

 Does litter get picked up by woodland creatures?

 Only if they have a PATC patch on their backpacks.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is founded on volunteerism and public service in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. This tradition began in 1927, when PATC was formed to survey and construct hundreds of miles of the Appalachian Trail. By the time Shenandoah National Park was created in 1937, PATC was already maintaining a network of trails in the region and publishing the first trail maps and guidebooks. During this period, PATC also started constructing trailside cabins and shelters for the hiking public.

PATC’s trail region has grown to more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails and more than 60 cabins and shelters. The volunteer tradition endures—500 volunteers contribute their time and energy to keep the trails open and the shelters and cabins in good repair. PATC’s maps and guidebooks are considered the most accurate sources in the world for information concerning trails in our hiking region.

PATC volunteering now goes well beyond trail, cabin, and shelter maintenance. For example the PATC:

  • Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group (SMRG) focuses on the safety and well-being of missing hikers and outdoorspeople
  • Trail Patrol and Appalachian Trail Ridgerunners provide education and assistance to other trail users
  • Hosts Appalachian Trail through-hikers, weekend backpackers, and day hikers at the Club's Blackburn Trail Center and Bear's Den facility
  • Purchases and manages small parcels of land to protect trailheads and viewsheds
  • Conservation Committee focuses on issues that affect our trail region
  • Maintains an active presence monitoring the land boundaries of the Appalachian Trail through the Corridor Monitoring Program
  • Leads hiking and backpacking trips, and hosts numerous events of interest to outdoorspeople
  • Has five regional Chapters where those further afield can participate actively in the Club
  • Leads the way to establishment of new long distance trails; the established Tuscarora Trail and the proposed Great Eastern Trail
  • Works with nearly 70 government agencies on trail related matters
  • Provides 35,000 volunteer hours per year to support trails
  • Offers active Mountaineering and Ski Touring sections
  • Naturalist program monitors rare plants, catches aquatic insects, counts American chestnut trees, and takes pictures of black bear and other warm-blooded animals of our forests

The amazing thing is that all of the above activities are performed by volunteers. We do it because we care deeply about the outdoors.

Membership will make you part of PATC’s public service and volunteerism. We can’t do it without the financial support from our membership dues. On your next hike, look at all of the fallen trees that have been sawed and removed from your path. It was most likely a volunteer who cut them. Examine the water diversion devices in the trail that prevent the trail from eroding. Most likely a volunteer cut, dug, and placed them. Have the encroaching brush and weeds been trimmed back from your path? A volunteer did the trimming. Would your hiking experience be the same without PATC?

Your membership is very valuable to us. We hope you will become a partner in our ongoing efforts, and will join a community of outdoorspeople that crosses all age groups. Help us maintain the tradition and create new trail history for future generations.

If you have time, we encourage you to volunteer to join one of our many volunteer activities. No experience is necessary. Our volunteer activities are satisfying, productive, enriching, and more fun than a walk in the woods!

Membership Benefits

  • Member privilege for renting PATC “Members-Only” cabins
  • Discount on purchases of all merchandise, including PATC’s fine trail maps and guidebooks
    • Discount applies to purchases made at the online PATC Store and at the Sales Desk at PATC Headquarters
  • Monthly newsletter, The Potomac Appalachian, delivered by mail
  • Entitles you to elect to be a Trail Overseer and receive additional benefits
  • An invitation to the PATC Annual Meeting and Dinner in November

How Much Does Membership Cost?

All membership categories dues include $9.00 per year towards the publication of the monthly newsletter, The Potomac Appalachian. The remainder is tax-deductible.

Membership Categories

  • Individual Membership (not Life)
  • Couple Membership (not Life)
    • Couple memberships are for two individuals living at the same mailing address—Membership benefits apply to both individuals.
  • Family Membership
  • Life Membership
    • Life memberships are paid one time, and remain in effect for a lifetime, with no other dues required.
  • Student Membership
  • Business/Non-profit Membership

Please consider joining at the Contributing or Sustaining level if you would like to do more to help support the volunteer work of PATC.

Membership Dues

Category Class/Notes Cost Period
Individual Standard $35.00 Annual
Individual Senior – age 60+ $30.00 Annual
Couple Standard $40.00 Annual
Couple Senior – age 60+ $35.00 Annual
Family 1 – 2 adults; Children <21 y/o $50.00 Annual
Life Member Individual $500.00 Lifetime
Life Member Couple $750.00 Lifetime
Student <21 y/o — Cannot rent cabins $20.00 Annual
Business ≤25 employees $250.00 Annual
Business >25 employees $500.00 Annual
Non-Profit/Youth Group  $50.00 Annual