John Hughes, volunteer for “Dirt Bags,” working on the Gregory Platts Trail. Photo by Perry Jasper

The Friends of Sonoita Creek, a local non-profit, have a group of volunteers who work to upkeep trails in Patagonia, Sonoita, and nearby areas of interest like Patagonia Lake. The group, named “Dirt Bags,” starts working as the weather cools down and as more hikers come into the area.

This past month the Dirt Bags have worked on The Nature Conservancy Paton House Trail, Smith Canyon, Wildlife Corridor Trails, a birding trail east of Patagonia Lake, and the Black Hawk and Sonoita Creek Trails. Their goals are to build the trails, maintain them and restore habitats
where needed.

One of the lead volunteers, Chris Strohm, has had experience with trails in California and is an engineer. Due to his background Chris directs the Dirt Bags to follow certain protocols in designing and maintaining trails.

They want water to stay off the trails and people to stay on. For example, they want a trail to be sloped just enough so that water can shape it but does not develop into a gulley. They may choose to reroute certain trails and add switchbacks to prevent water from collecting.

Dirt Bags volunteers work to clear trails at several sites throughout the Patagonia area.

Bob Hawkins, a volunteer for the past six years, said that the group is a wonderful place to socialize and that there is a real sense of accomplishment with the work. Further, he said that everyone plays their part to help with the work.

For instance, if someone is not able to work with the heavier equipment they can help with the clipping and trimming. Over time volunteers develop a niche and become valuable members of the team.

The Dirt Bags are always looking for more volunteers. They meet every Thursday. You can contact Bob Hawkins at (520) 377-7294 if you are interested in helping them.