Porcupine Trail Crew: A Season on the Bighorn NF 2015

Bryan Harwood

Mar 24, 2016

Joe, Bryan (me), Shane, and Mike. The USFS Porcupine Trail Crew 2015 Bighorn National Forest.

For those of you who like to hike on nice trails into areas that are amazing, you can thank a trail crew for the blood, sweat, tears, passion, energy, heart, soul, and LIFE that goes into every inch of hiking trail everywhere.
I am one of those people. I have been working trail crews for years now. The season that I am about to share with you is my most recent season on the Bighorn as the Crew Leader for this awesome project.
Thanks to the forest's Recreation Manager, Bob Cochran, this trail project came to life. It is a rare occurrence in the USFS for such a big project to take place anymore. Luckily we had a supervisor that pursued the possibility, and with our help succeeded.
We lived at Porcupine Ranger Station, 6 miles away on the mountain. The living situation was great.

We Built this...


Just to start this long post off with a preface. This is the first section of stone work that we spent the first 8 weeks on the site completing.

I will start off by saying. This job was a lot of hard work, technical knowledge, heavy tool use, and alot of perfectly shaped stone from the talos field that surrounded.

This was the project site... A brand new rock staircase descending into this picturesque waterfall canyon.
This is Porcupine Falls, thus the name Porcupine Trail Crew. We spent 12 long weeks here in the heat, cold, hail, rain, and thunderstorms day in and day out putting rocks in the ground.


The whole crew, even the Bighorn Trail Crew helped out for a day. This was my office for 2015. Not as glamorous as it seems, but Ill take it over a sterile ass flourescent lighted office building.


For the heavy trail work stuff, we use the Rock Drill to help split the massive boulders into pieces that we can use more efficiently.

After we drill several holes, we split the rock with the Feather/wedge technique:

Crew Love. This technique incorporates the use of these single-jack hammers and these titanium wegdges that split the rock in half when pounded in between the feathers.


This is a normal day for me at work...


How do you move such huge rocks???
Well, we use the Griphoist, snatchblocks, and this huge cable to slowly lift the rocks up the slope, where they will be placed in the ground.

Griphoist in full action.


Also some splitting in process


Also, we Use these bastard tools, the Rock Bar for prying bars into place. You see that huge boulder. we can move that with these bars and the use of a fulcrum. There's me in the red hat swinging the double jack hammer. Lots of work is done using that tool.

Work in progress!!


My crew as they shed some gratitude on their boss.




First 3 weeks. Proud of our work.

So as the season went along, we began getting alot better at what we were doing, but also, we began running into alot more issues that needed problem solving and frustration. So we began accumulating new tools for the hard spots. This is the ROCK SAW, that is corrct a saw that cuts rock like wood. It has a diamond tipped blade and water must be squirt on the blade at all time to ensure proper cooling of the metal.


In Action, cutting rocks to ensure a good fit. This was my favorite tool, and I rarely let my crew members use it. Sorry guys, I loved running this thing!


More shots of Rock Bar usage and other happenings.


This is our Break room. Perfect spot for lunch and a cool off break.


Views from our hike into work everyday. Not Bad
The hike into work was a rough steep trail that we had to carry all our heavy equipment into from. Every, Single, Day. My knees are mad at me from this season


The complete sections were so beautiful, I loved photographing them :)


Beginning of our second section. Some nice drains and wall structures here.


Loading the truck for work in the morning...


My girlfriend Erin even visited me from Missoula one weekend :) <3

And, on our last day, we had a photoshoot of the crew! Cuz thats how I Run my crews.


Our Rig. A nice truck.


Our Waterfall, a nice truck

This Is the Video of the First Section of completed stairs.

This is the second section. Second section of completed Stairs on the Porcupine Falls Trail. This part only took 4 weeks of construction, we ran into some serious bedrock but "there's always something you can do" so we did.

This was a great trail season. This coming year I will be doing similar work in Yellowstone NP. Thanks for reading :)


  • IMG_3589.JPG
    181.4 KB · Views: 24
  • IMG_3821.JPG
    186 KB · Views: 17
Last edited:


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Coooowellll ! Great post. A little high temp compared to the CCC but those are beautiful steps. Thanks for building them. How many calories do you figure were expended in building those steps :)


Sep 17, 2014
Wish you could get some guys in the _________ district of the ___________ of their posteriors.

Thanks man, great work.


ephemeral excursionist
Jan 17, 2012
Sweet! Thx for sharing. Thx for the hard work.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
R Wind River Range: Green River Lakes/Clarks Trail/Porcupine Creek Trail Trip Planning 3
Perry Off Trail Porcupine Pass to Red Castle Lake Trip Planning 5
Janice Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - August 2-7 Backpacking 15
Perry Dead Horse and Porcupine Passes Conditions Trip Planning 3
L Boulder Mail Trail April 2023 Qs Trip Planning 11
fossana AZ Strip bike exploration (Sunshine Trail/Hurricane Wash Loop) Everything Else 3
W Gulf of Slides Ski Trail Trip Report 1/25/2022 Trip Reports 0
B Sawtooths - Off Trail Route Plan Trip Planning 5
balzaccom Trail Crew Story General Discussion 0
marquiri Off Trail Advice Trip Planning 17
balzaccom More trail work! Backpacking 0
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 10/10 Backpacking 59
R Pony Express Trail, Black Rock to Simpson Springs Hiking & Camping 3
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 9/10 Backpacking 16
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 8/10 Backpacking 42
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 7/10 Backpacking 10
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 6/10 Backpacking 10
dennisrodman A week in the Grand Canyon / Boucher / Hermit / Tonto Trail Trip Planning 4
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 5/10 Backpacking 20
Ellen Zion West Rim Trail, December 2022 Trip Planning 3
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 4/10 Backpacking 13
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 3/10 Backpacking 7
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 2/10 Backpacking 35
Miya Pacific Crest Trail (NOBO) Part 1/10 Backpacking 23
R Pony Express Trail Hiking Recommendations Trip Planning 4
balzaccom Desolation Trail Work Backpacking 7
JBG Water Beta 2022 - Highline Trail Trip Planning 6
kwc Backpacking on the Northville Placid Trail (NPT) Backpacking 13
4 Centennial Trail SD information Trip Planning 1
The Trout Whisperer I took on Hotter than H£#§ !!! Hotwater Trail in Texas… Hiking & Camping 19
seekinglost Introducing the Mojave-Sonoran Trail: A NEW 625-mile Winter Thru-Hiking Route Backpacking 4
balzaccom Help on the trail--literally General Discussion 7
Mikjik86 4 Days Backpacking Grand Teton Wilderness/Teton Crest Trail - Wyoming, July, 2021 Backpacking 0
priz1234 John Muir Trail 2021 Backpacking 8
seekinglost 1000 Mile Nevada Thru Hike on the Basin and Range Trail Trip Reports 14
chandlerwest Bryce Canyon - Under The Rim Trail Hiking & Camping 0
scatman North Pitchstone Trail, Headwaters of Ouzel Creek, Bechler River and Mr. Bubbles(?) - Yellowstone National Park - September 13, 2021 Backpacking 36
TractorDoc Off Trail to Yellowstone's Aster Lake and Upper Witch Creek -- September 13, 2021 Hiking & Camping 13
B In Government Trail and out Water Canyon Trip Planning 3
Janice Winds - Bears Ears Trail? Trip Planning 3
la_alpinista Thoughts on potential off trail routes in Cloud Peak Wilderness CPW Trip Planning 1
Noun Sequitur Jemez River, Las Conchas Trail and Beyond Hiking & Camping 1
futurafree Colorado off-trail ideas? Trip Planning 8
Mountain Wanderer Hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail in the Great Burn Backpacking 0
Noun Sequitur Magdalena Mountains, Mesa Trail Loop Hiking & Camping 3
Bob Morris North Inlet Trail Trip Planning 3
J Uinta Highline Trail Shuttle Trip Planning 0
JBG Water on the Highline Trail - 2021 Trip Planning 2
C Coyote Gulch via Chimney rock trail Trip Planning 0
SirDonB Echo Lake via the Overlook Mt Trail Hiking & Camping 0

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.