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  Backcountry Trail Patrol

  A non-profit organization dedicated to protecting trail users and forest resources through service and backcountry safety education.

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Patrolling Backcountry Trails

What is the Backcountry Trail Patrol?

The Backcountry Trail Patrol Association is a private, non-profit organization that provides volunteer trail patrol and advocacy on the Chequamegon National Forest In Wisconsin and the Marcell area of the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota.The patrol started as the Backcountry Trail Patrol Program of the North-Central Mountain Bike Patrol (NCMBP) in 1999 to promote and patrol trails on the Chippewa and Superior  National Forests in Minnesota. In 2003 when NCMBP became a prorgam of MORC (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists), the Backcountry Patrol program became a separate, independent organization concentrating on the Chippewa and Chequamegon National Forests.

Chippewa NF Patrol, 2003

We are active partners with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the CAMBA Trails which are our our primary patrol venue, although we still occaisionally serve as casual volunteers on the Chippewa National Forest, particularly the Trout Lake and Suomi Hills Non-Motorized Management Areas south of Marcell.  We also patrol and maintain the trails in Isanti (MN) County Parks, which we helped design and build.


In this era of tightening budgets, the Backcountry Patrol helps the forest by monitoring use, encouraging proper and safe recreational activities, explaining forest management programs and policies, and acting as a volunteer "face" of the Forest Service to all trail users. We ask that all members commit to doing at least 12 hours of trail patrol on CAMBA trails per season, and work at least three events over the course of a year. You can see by the list below there are plenty of opportunities to work events.

Our major events are:
CAMBA/Borah Epic
Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival
Fat Bike Birkie
Other events we work are:
Birkie Tour
Lake Maria State Park (MN) Winter Family Fun Day
North End Ski Classic
Salsa Ride Camp
Cable Off-Road Classic 
Birkie Trail Run 

Any Senior Patroller can decide to work an event and recruit other members to assist.


The U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, New York State Forest Rangers and other agencies have used long-distance patrols for years to cover large backcountry and wilderness areas by foot, canoe and even by dogsled. Rangers, usually seasonal employees, are assigned to work in the backcountry for a week or more at a time, carrying all the supplies and equipment with them in backpacks or canoe packs. That is the idea behind "long ride-long patrols."


Ideally, a long trail patrol will consist of two patrollers, (although government agencies often use solo rangers on backcountry patrol, so one patroller would be acceptable) who would carry a tent, food, first aid equipment, maps, trail maintenance and navigation tools, (compass and GPS) cellular phone and a radio in panniers or on a BoB-type bike trailer. They would be able to stay out on the trail for a night or more at campsites along the trail or within the system they are patrolling. Like backcountry rangers, they would check in with a designated base by radio, one or two times a day. The patrol would also be able to contact the base in the event of an emergency or other urgent need, and the base would be able to contact the patrollers with any weather alerts, special instructions or emergency information. While law enforcement is not a function of Backcountry Trail Patrol volunteers, they are trained to function as additional "eyes and ears" for enforcement and resource protection officers.

Training for "long ride patrols" is in addition to the training that which Backcountry Patrollers receive when they join BPTA. While all of their training would is applicable,  they also receive instruction in the agency’s needs, objectives and goals, contact and emergency procedures and the specific duties and limitations of their assignment. Supplemental training is provided in "Tread Lightly!" camping, long-distance touring and local conditions. Backcountry patrollers are as likely to seek information from books like "Soft Paths" and the "NOLS Wilderness Guide" (both published by the NOLS-the National Outdoor Leadership School) as from mountain biking resources. 

 Backcountry trail campsite, Chippewa National Forest, MN

Campsite cooking, while not officially offered, might also be helpful! Both the "NOLS Cookery" book (NOLS) and the "Wilderness Ranger Cookbook" (Falcon Press) are great resources for meals for backcountry travelers.

Unfortunately, there are no "bikepacking" courses at NOLS, so the Backcountry Patrol offers workshops and classes to the public, as well as to members.   






2016 Patrol Event Schedule:

(All times are when patrollers should plan to arrive.  All others are events we have been requested to be at.)

This information has been moved to our Facebook Events page. (click to go there)

Links to Minnesota and Wisconsin agencies can be found below, along with specific trails and programs.

  New Patrol Member Training Information

  U.S. Forest Service, Region 9-Includes MN and WI links

  U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement

  Minnesota Dept. Of Natural Resources

National Recreational Trails


Highest quality panniers and bike bags.


Backcountry Ranger's Winter Site