2017 Alternative Breaks

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The 2017 Alternative Break locations and their availability are listed below.  If you would like to secure a particular week/location for your group for please first read through the General Information section to better understand the program and reservation process.  Then contact Libby Wile at LWile@AmericanHiking.org or call 1-800-972-8608 ext. 704.

PLEASE NOTE:  Alternative Breaks are intended for college student groups.  To reserve a week/location, your group needs to have at least 8 participants.  If you are interested in participating in a service trip as an individual or with a small group, our 2017 Volunteer Vacations schedule will have many spring/summer trips that are not exclusive to college students (all ages can participate) and offer individual registration.  This schedule will be open for registration in early-December.

Location
State
(1/2) - (1/7)
(1/8) - (1/14)
(2/26) - (3/4)
(3/5) - (3/11)
(3/12) - (3/18)
(3/19) - (3/25)
(3/26) - (4/1)
(4/2) - (4/8)
Summer '17
Santa Clara Parks
CA
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Crystal River SP
FL
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Talbot Islands SP
FL
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Johnson's Shut-Ins SP
MO
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Belle Isle SP
VA
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Douthat SP
VA
RESERVEDAvailable
James River SP
VA
RESERVEDAvailableRESERVED
Natural Bridge SP
VA
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Pocahontas SP
VA
AvailableAvailable
Staunton River SP
VA
Available
York River SP
VA
AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailableRESERVED
Santa Clara County Parks, CA 3
Santa Clara County Parks, California
Host: Santa Clara County Parks
Maximum Group Size: 15

Project & Hiking
santa-clara-parks-ca-2Help complete a trail construction project in beautiful Calero County Park nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains! The park offers oak woodlands, serpentine grasslands, and Calero Reservoir.  Trail work will include trail grading, brush removal, sign installation, drainage clearing/construction, retaining wall construction, and bridge construction. Training will be provided by Santa Clara County Park staff.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 4 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
santa-clara-county-parks-caSanta Clara County Parks are located in the San Jose, CA area.  Calero County Park, the work location, is nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains and is home to beautiful trails, oak woodlands, and abundant wildlife.  Santa Clara County’s other 29 regional parks offer urban and rural escapes, trails for hikers, runners, bikers, and equestrians. Also offered are historic and interpretive sites, camping, picnic areas, and more.  In nearby San Jose and surrounding areas, students can enjoy diverse restaurants, museums, and festivals.  San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean are just one hour away.   Volunteers will be treated to a tour of Santa Clara County Parks historical and interpretive sites known as Casa Grande Mining Museum, Joice Bernal Ranch, Joseph D Grant ranch, or the Chitactac Adams heritage Park.
Accommodations
Volunteers will stay at the Muriel Wright Center located within Santa Teresa County Park.  Volunteers will each have their own dormitory style rooms with a bed, closet, and desk.  Communal showers and bathrooms are located down a hallway.  Prep your meals in a fully equipped industrial kitchen and relax after work playing pool, watching movies, playing games in the recreation room, or going for a hike in Santa Teresa County Park.  The kitchen facility is large and industrial, including industrial ranges and ovens, walk in refrigerator and freezer, sinks for food prep and washing, counter top space, pantry storage, silverware, cook ware, plates, cups, etc. Santa Clara County Volunteer Program offices are also located at the Muriel Wright center where the dorms are located.  Volunteers should bring their own bedding/linens (twin sized bed or sleeping bag and pillow), towels, and personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
crystal-river-state-park-fl-2-cropped
Crystal River Preserve State Park, Florida
Host: Florida State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 15

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will spend the week connecting an outer .49 mile loop trail to an existing trail system by doing some trail clearing and marking, including installing signs.  The crew will also widen the existing trail where necessary to improve access and visibility.  Another project consists of installing a 228 foot low water crossing to a hiking/biking trail to improve both the trail and the flow in the area.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 3 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
crystal-river-state-park-flA place of exceptional natural beauty, the undisturbed islands, inlets, backwaters and forests of Crystal River Preserve are especially cherished by nature lovers and photographers. The Preserve sits on one of the very few estuaries in the world that is primarily spring fed.  Those interested in archaeology will want to visit the mound complex at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park dating from 600 AD along with the museum there. The park borders 20 miles of the northern Gulf Coast between the two cities of Yankeetown and Homosassa. Visitors can hike or bicycle along seven miles of trails or study the native wildlife and plants on the two mile interpretive trail. The town of Crystal River is known for it’s population of manatees in the winter months as well as it’s springs, and is the only place where you can legally “snorkel” with this gentle giant. On a free day, volunteers will have the opportunity to tour Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, a popular destination in the area to see Florida native wildlife as they are rehabilitated and on display until they are released into the wild.  Alligator, eagle, bear and manatee interpretive programs provide more information for guests of the park. 
Accommodations
crystal-river-state-park-flVolunteers will be staying at the park’s car camping campsites, with restrooms nearby.  Fire rings are available at the campsites. Volunteers will have access to a small kitchen (sink, stove, microwave) and camp kitchen supplies (pots, pans, cooking utensils, and ice chests). Volunteers should bring their own tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and personal items including eating utensils (cup, bowl, plate, knife, fork, and spoon) in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
BigTalbotSunrise032504-A22
Talbot Islands State Park, Florida
Host: Florida State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 16

Project & Hiking
talbot-islands-state-park-flVolunteers will assist park rangers and wildlife Biologists on a range of vital monitoring and protection efforts for imperiled coastal species including nesting shorebirds, sea turtles, diamondback Terrapins and habitat restoration. Projects include prepping nesting areas through clean ups, sign construction and installation, and daily species monitoring. Participants will learn wildlife management and restoration techniques as well as improving visitor areas along our scenic trail networks. Work outdoors, on the beach and in the woods, along over 10 miles of trails improving trail conditions by removing encroaching vegetation and improving trail surfaces and prepping beach nesting areas for imperiled species. Soak in the Florida sunshine while giving back to the wildlife and to the wild lands!  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 5 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
Sarabay SunriseTalbot Islands State Parks showcase some of the last remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the SE US. With over 8,000 acres to explore, they are a haven for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.  Activities include kayaking alongside wading birds, manatees and oyster beds in the salt marsh of Big Talbot Island, fossil hunting in the shell beds and enjoying sparkling blue Atlantic waters on the 5 mile coast of Little Talbot Island, soaking in over 5,000 years of cultural history including Timucuan, French, Spanish, plantation and roaring 20’s Recreation era on Ft. George Island, fishing the 1 mile long George Crady Fishing pier for flounder and trout, and discovering a cypress swamp nestled in a long leaf pine forest home to nesting bald eagles at Pumpkin Hill Preserve. Nestled between the charming Amelia Island with historic civil war era Ft. Clinch and inviting downtown Fernandina Beach and bustling river city of Jacksonville.  Rewarding service work and endless fun are available at this amazing place.  Volunteers will be treated to kayaking at Big Talbot Island with a guided ranger tour of the area.
Accommodations
Volunteers will stay at 2 car camping sites accommodating 4 cars and 16 people at the scenic and centrally located Little Talbot Island campground. Each site has room for 2 tents and comes with a picnic table, fire ring with grill, clothesline, water and electric. 2 bathhouses offer hot showers and laundry facilities. Group cooking gear including camping stoves, pots, pans, and coolers will be provided. A fishing dock, 1 mile nature trail and group amphitheater are also available. Only a half mile drive to the beach.  Volunteers should bring their own tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and personal items including eating utensils (cup, bowl, plate, knife, fork, and spoon) in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
johnsons-shut-ins-state-park-mo
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri
Host: Missouri State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 10

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will spend the week performing trail maintenance tasks on the Mina Sauk Trail within Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.  Trail maintenance tasks will include lopping, removing limbs and debris, dirt work, hanging tags on trees, removing rocks from trail and hiking the trail for gps coordinates.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 5 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
Johnson’s Shut-Ins derives its name from the rushing waters of the East Fork of the Black River that are “shut-in” by the hard volcanic rock.  Over 1.4 billion years ago, violent volcanic eruptions created hard rhyolite bedrock.  As the rhyolite cooled, it cracked in many places, creating pathways for flowing water. Scoured by water-born sand and gravel, the channels grew deeper and wider. The eroding action of water has created small waterfalls and a series of natural waterslides.   Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a very rugged, rocky and hilly region  and the most visited state park in the summer time because of the shut-ins and its unique geological features.  Volunteers can look forward to a trip to Elephant Rocks State Park, just 12 miles away, which is also a geological attraction.
Accommodations
johnsons-shut-ins-state-park-mo-lodgingVolunteers will stay in on-site housing in the park’s seasonal quarters.  Facilities include a full kitchen (refrigerator, cook top stove, oven, microwave and basic eating utensils), 4 bedrooms (8 twin beds total- the remaining volunteers can sleep on couches or on the floor) and bathroom.   Volunteers should bring their own bedding linens (twin sheets or sleeping bag and pillow), towels, and personal toiletries/clothing in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
belle-isle-state-park-va
Belle Isle State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 14

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will work on various trail improvement projects throughout the park including, but not limited to general trail maintenance, brush trimming and removal, gravel laying, trail repair, and trail marking. Volunteers may also assist with shoreline cleanup.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 3 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
The Northern Neck is a beautiful and historic area of Virginia and is considered the birthplace of our nation.  Belle Isle State Park has over 7 miles of shoreline along the Rappahannock River and Mulberry and Deep Creeks. Seasonal canoe and kayak rentals are available, as well as bicycles for exploring the 9 miles of trails throughout the park.  Stratford Hall, Historic Christchurch, the Steamboat Era Museum, George Washington Birthplace National Monument, and Westmoreland State Park are all close by for exploring. Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Richmond, Virginia, and Washington DC are also within a day’s drive.  
Accommodations
belle-isle-state-park-va-bunkhouseVolunteers will stay in a 3-room camping cabin with 7 bunk beds (for a total of 14 beds). Beds are in two separate bedrooms (3 bunk beds each), and so can be divided into male and female bedrooms if desired. The center room has a bunk bed, kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, group cooking gear, and eating utensils. Volunteers will also have access to the concession – where there is a large refrigerator and freezer as well as a flat top grill and microwave.  There is a campfire ring and charcoal grill outside for grilling and s ‘mores with picnic table for meal prep and eating. Bathrooms and showers are a short walk away. There is no heat or fire place, so extra blankets are a must. There is electricity, so you can bring small space heaters if you would like. Volunteers should bring sleeping bags or bed linens, towels, personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
douthat-state-park-va 
Douthat State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 15

Project & Hiking
douthat-state-park-va-3Volunteers will spend the week replacing trail signage and metal blazes, may do some rerouting of a trail, repairing bridges, and general trail maintenance of the 43 miles of trails within the park.  Weather conditions may dictate changes in the work plan as Douthat often gets snow in March.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 6 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
Amid some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, visitors enjoy interpretive programs, two miles of stream fishing, a 50-acre lake stocked with trout, and more than 43 miles of hiking, mountain biking and bridle trails. Plus, there is an amphitheater and a restaurant overlooking the lake. Volunteers will have plenty of recreational opportunities to choose from during their free time. They will have the opportunity to tour the beautiful counties of Bath and Alleghany, home of the Dominion Back Creek Recreation Area and the Jackson River Scenic Trail.  The park is close to the Greenbrier (bunker tour), historic Lexington, VA, and a very interesting train museum in Clifton Forge which is about 15 minutes from the park.  Volunteers will be treated to a trip to Natural Bridge State Park, Virginia’s newest state park!
Accommodations

Volunteers will stay in Creasey Lodge, a five bedroom lodge that has 2 sets of bunk beds in each of 4 bedrooms and 1 queen in the 5th bedroom.  The lodge has two full bathrooms with showers and a fully equipped kitchen with refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, and coffeepot.  Volunteers should bring their own personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.

Contact AHS about this AB
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
James River State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 14

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will spend the week clearing parts of the parks 18 miles of trails of winter debris, leaves, and repairing damaged trail areas to prepare for the upcoming season. Volunteers will reroute sections of trails that pose potential hazards in current condition or have developed drainage problems due to erosion and settling water.  Volunteers will also create a new trail that will demonstrate advanced trail building techniques, including switchbacks, and benching. Volunteers should plan to hike up to 6 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, James River State Park features rolling grasslands, forests, and beautiful views, as well as 3 miles of shoreline along the historic James River. The Visitor Center has a large aquarium, a replica bateau, and numerous displays describing the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Environmental education programs available include Night Owl Hike – taking a walk after dark and calling owls;  Wagon ride to the scenic Tye River Overlook; FIRE! program discussing fire ecology and cool ways to start fires; Archery range where we spend several hours teaching compound bow archery;  snake program where we feed our resident snake and learn about their habits. Volunteers will have the option to choose an activity from several nearby attractions that include: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Museum of the Confederacy, National D-Day Memorial, Crabtree Falls offers hiking next to one of the tallest sets of waterfalls in the east, or visiting other nearby Virginia State Parks. 

Accommodations
james-river-state-park-va-lodgeVolunteers will stay in a 6 bedroom lodge that offers two bedrooms with queen size beds, two bedrooms each with two single beds, and two bedrooms each with two sets of bunk beds, nightstands, dresser, closet. The lodge offers three full bathrooms. One complete set of linens and towels per person is provided. Living area has a dining table and chairs, rustic furniture, and fireplace with gas logs. Washer and dryer available. Deck has an open porch with rocking chairs and end tables; charcoal grill and fire ring are also included.  Volunteers will stay in a fully furnished lodge that sleeps 14, with central air and heat, 3 bathrooms, and full kitchen equipped with utensils, dishes, and pots and pans. The lodge also has a gas log fireplace. Volunteers should bring their personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
natural-bridge-state-park-va-2
Natural Bridge State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 12

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will spend the week clearing, maintaining, and upgrading the existing 6 miles of hiking trails of winter debris, leaves, and repairing damaged trail areas to prepare for the upcoming summer season. Volunteers maybe also be creating and establishing new trails within the park that will include new trail head access points. Volunteers should plan to hike up to 6 miles on work days to complete these tasks. As Virginia’s newest state park, trail maintenance and building at Natural Bridge is especially vital and appreciated by park staff!
Area & Attractions
natural-bridge-state-park-vaLocated in Rockbridge County, Natural Bridge is Virginia’s newest State Park featuring rolling grasslands, forests, and beautiful scenic vistas. The bridge once owned by Thomas Jefferson has been included in several “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” lists and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  Cedar Creek Trail provides a step back in time as the Monacan Indian Living History depicts the opportunity to visualize what life was like in a typical Monacan Indian settlement, the trail continues to Lace Falls – a luscious 30+ foot cascading water fall.  Enjoy the Natural Bridge Caverns tour as it descends more than 34 stories deep to a magnificent natural display.  
Accommodations
Volunteers will stay in dormitory style rooms with twin and/or bunk beds. The crew will have access to a kitchenette which includes a stove, oven, and refrigerator. Volunteers should bring their own bedding (twin sized sheets or sleeping bag and pillow, towels, personal items including eating utensils (cup, bowl, plate, knife, fork, and spoon) in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
pocahontas-state-park-va
Pocahontas State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 15

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will spend the week repairing existing trails and building the parks next phase of hiking trails. Repairs will include the addition of trail features such as rolling grade dips and knicks which require digging and shaping earth to redirect water from erosion prone areas. New trail building will involve cutting limbs, raking leaves, chopping through organic soil layers, digging down to mineral soil, digging into hillsides, and putting in features to redirect water.  Volunteers should plan to hike up to 3 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
pocahontas-state-park-va-2Just 20 miles from Richmond, VA, 45 minutes from Williamsburg and Jamestown, and an easy 2 hour drive to Washington, D.C., Pocahontas State Park offers hiking, picnicking, biking, bird watching, and nature and history programs. The park has more than 80 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, dedicated to the Depression-era workers who helped build the state park system, is one of a handful in the nation.   
Accommodations
Volunteers will be housed in the park’s banquet hall during the program. The banquet hall facility consists of a main hall, with tables and chairs, modern restrooms, and a modern all electric kitchen that includes industrial size stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer, ice machine, work tables and serving line. The facility is heated and air conditioned.  Volunteers should bring their own sleeping bag and pillow, towels, and personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
staunton-river-state-park-va-sunset
Staunton State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 10

Project & Hiking
staunton-river-state-park-va-3Volunteers will spend the week improving existing parks trails.  This will include increasing the trails’ capacity to shed water and prevent erosion, clearing vistas for hikers to view overlooks, rerouting sections of trail that are overused and dangerous for hikers, and repairing trail damage that was a direct result from a tornado. Volunteers will be trained by seasoned park rangers on trail construction and tool use, and will be closely supervised to ensure goals are being met and safety rules are followed.  Volunteers can expect to hike up to 1 mile each working day to complete these projects. 
Area & Attractions
Staunton River State Park is located on the edge of Buggs Island Lake in the rolling hills of the beautiful state of Virginia. The park takes its name from the Roanoke River, which has a section named after Captain Henry Staunton, who protected settlers from indian attacks in the early 1700’s. It has been described as the best place in the world to observe the stars and night sky (especially in March), and has approximately 18 miles of trail.  Access to the largest Lake in Virginia plus excellent fishing and boating opportunities are offered at the park.  Staunton River State Park is an hour away from the historic towns of Danville and Lynchburg, Virginia and Roxboro, North Carolina. Locally in the town of South Boston there are several museums and historic sites that offer cultural history to modern explorers.   
Accommodations
staunton-river-state-park-va-cabinVolunteers will stay in a bunk house in the campground that is climate controlled, and has bunk beds for 13 individuals. A microwave and refrigerator with freezer is inside, along with a propane grill outside to cook on.  While the bunk house des not have running water, the bath house is a  short 60 second walk away, with sinks and showers.  Volunteers should bring their own bedding/linens (twin sized bed or sleeping bag and pillow), towels, and personal gear in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB
Ohio State University at York River State Park, VA 4
York River State Park, Virginia
Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 10

Project & Hiking
Volunteers will perform trail maintenance, including clearing vegetation, repairing washouts, brushing trail corridors, on various trails in the park (the park has 35 miles of trails to explore!) Volunteers should plan to hike up to 5 miles on work days to complete these tasks.
Area & Attractions
York River State Park, VAYork River State Park is designated as a Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The park is known for its rare and delicate estuarine environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet to create a rich habitat for marine and plant life. The pristine environment offers clues to a rich natural and cultural history and hosts fossil beds and Colonial and Native American artifacts. The park offers more than 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails, allowing visitors to explore the marsh, river shoreline and forests. Williamsburg is the home of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center, Busch Gardens, Water World, and the college of William & Mary. Volunteers can look forward to canoeing or kayaking on Taskinas Creek and the York River!
Accommodations
Marshall Unviersity Alternative Break at York River croppedVolunteers will stay in two mobile homes that provide bunkbeds, full kitchen facilities, bathrooms with showers, and living areas.  Volunteers should bring their own personal gear and towels in addition to the items listed on the suggested Alternative Break packing list.
Contact AHS about this AB

If you would like to secure a particular week/location for your group please first read through the General Information section to better understand the program and reservation process.  Then contact Libby Wile at LWile@AmericanHiking.org or call 1-800-972-8608 ext. 704.