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Votes

Local Volunteers on Trail Patrol

National Park Service sponsors Mount Vernon Trail Patrol Volunteer Program to supplement trail safety.

Details

U.S. National Park Service

Mount Vernon Trail Patrol Volunteer Program

Sarah Gamble, Park Ranger & MVTP Volunteer Coordinator

George Washington Memorial Parkway

Sarah_Gamble@NPS.gov

For accidents and emergencies:

Call U.S. Park Police: 202-610-7500

For Non-Emergencies:

Call Virginia District Ranger on the Fort Hunt Cell phone:

202-439-7325

For Visitors requesting park info:

Call: Park Headquarters: 202-289-2500.

Trail Patrol Volunteer Reports

Trail Patrol volunteers are required to call Ranger’s or Park Police when they encounter incidents that need immediate attention. They are also required to send two written reports a month on their observations and concerns to the Park Ranger Coordinator. Excerpts of past patroller reports include:

  • “One of the runners I just spoke with had just tripped and fallen on bridge #23” … “she was not seriously hurt” …. “she said she tripped on a loose rotten board or one of the nails protruding” … “getting bridge #23 repaired needs to become a priority before someone gets seriously hurt.”

  • “Lots of bikers with no helmet” ….. “one lady suffering mild heat exhaustion and looking for a store” … “I gave her a bottle of water.”

  • “I came across an unsavory character who kept shouting obscenities at me and everyone else” …. “I called Park police” … “obviously mentally ill” … “police warned him that he was being watched.”

  • “Rider voiced concern that more bikers on the trail were going dangerously fast and endanger other riders when speeding around tight corners” … “told him trail patrollers aware of this and encouraging bikers to obey rules of the trail.”

  • “I came across a 49-year-old male laying on the side of the trail just north of Morningside drive exhausted and sweating profusely” ….. “applied ice pack to his neck” …. “when he did not improve I called NPS police to dispatch emergency service.”

  • “Reminded kids/parents about wearing helmets” …. “helped with one flat.”

  • “One pet off leash; 2 requests for directions; 4 cyclists speeding; 1 cyclist stopped from preparing to run a red light with vehicle approaching” … “trail very crowded” …. “great day out.”

For those thinking of using the Mount Vernon Parkway trails but are concerned of possible security risks or accidents that may, a Trail Patrol volunteer program offers an added sense of security and confidence.

Local volunteers supplement the U.S. National Park Service’s park ranger presence by patrolling the area and offering advice, help, and a secure presence throughout the trails of the Mount Vernon parkway.

Trail patrol volunteers work under the general supervision of park rangers, and have the responsibility to report incidents and help to those in need.

Park Ranger Sarah Gamble, coordinator of the Mount Vernon Trail Patrol Volunteer Program for more than a year, describes the volunteer program.

“The NPS’ role is to protect and preserve the cultural and natural resources of of the park resource and trail, and provide the highest level of visitor safety to the users of the park,” Gamble said. “The Mount Vernon Trail Patrol program, begun in 1999, supports those responsibilities in an effective and personal way. MVTP volunteers assist in medical and mechanical emergencies, educate trail users of proper trail safety rules and etiquette, and inform park rangers of trail conditions and incidents, provide services at outdoor races and events. I have greatly enjoyed my time with the volunteers and never cease to be amazed how dedicated and diligent this diverse group of Trail Patrollers are.”

Describing the Mount Vernon Trail Patrol’s geographic area, Gamble said, “The MVTP trail runs 18.5 miles beginning at the Mount Vernon parking lot adjacent to the George Washington estate circle drive in the southern end of the Mount Vernon parkway, extends north along the Potomac river, includes a 1.5 mile loop at Fort Hunt Park, and continues north to Theodore Roosevelt Island on the Potomac river across from the District of Columbia. This multi use trail is visited by over 1 million users annually, and is one of the most used trails in the U.S. It was originally built in 1973 and paved in 1975.”

There are currently 20 volunteers in the program.

“We provide training on the job through a mentoring program,” Gamble said. “Trail volunteers must take a walk or bike ride with the Ranger Trail Patrol Coordinator two times before they are authorized to serve. Guidelines in a handbook and training manual are also issued. Vests or jackets and first aid kits are provided by the NPS and paid for through our volunteer account. Individual volunteers use their own bikes. We have supplied bike repair kits and other items on request.”

More

Geographic Destinations Frequented by the Trail Patrol Volunteers:

Destinations /Places of Interest Mile Marker

Mount Vernon Estate Parking Lot 0

Riverside Park 1

Fort Hunt Park 3

Collingwood Picnic Area 4

Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve 6

Belle Haven Park 7

Jones Point Park 8

City of Alexandria 8-11

Daingerfield Island 12

Gravelly Point 15

Lady Bird Johnson Park 15-17

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial 16

LBJ Memorial 16

Theodore Roosevelt Island 18