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Linn County Conservation 2022 South San Juan Wilderness Trek

It should come as no surprise that we love being outdoors. When we're not outdoors we're most likely planning our next trip, reading about some new gear, or being the go-to resource for our friends and families' outdoor adventures. 

To help you enjoy the outdoors, we wanted to feature a cool organization that's helping people of all ages and backgrounds spend more time outdoors, Linn County Conservation. 

Over 8,000 acres are managed by Linn County Conservation in the form of parks, trails, natural areas, and preserves for all to enjoy, including: 28+ areas, 100+ miles of trail, over 300+ campsites, a nature center (Wickiup Hill Learning Center), and so much more!

Today, we're highlighting one of their feature programs, a wilderness trek for high school students.

Trek Overview:

The South San Juan Wilderness Trek is a two week backpacking trip for high school students to one of the most pristine wilderness areas in Colorado. Through partnership with Step Outdoors the U.S. Forest Service, and local nonprofits Linn County Conservation (LCC) is able to offer this opportunity.

2022 San Juan Wilderness Trek 3-fold Brochure (PDF)

Who can Attend?

Iowa high school students who meet application guidelines. No camping or backpacking experience needed.

When is the Trip?

July 19th-29th 2022

Where is it?

The South San Juan Wilderness is located near Pagosa Springs along the Continental Divide in southwest Colorado.

Is it Safe?

Trip leaders are highly experienced and trained in advanced wilderness first aid, navigation, and group management. SPOT devices will be used for daily communication and weather updates.

What is the Cost?

Thanks to outstanding community support from the NATOPAKAMA Bittersweet foundation, Linn County Conservation is able to offer this program FREE of charge. All equipment, transportation and meals will be included for students accepted into the program. Class size is limited.

How do I apply?

Students must complete application process by April 22. Demonstrated effort spent on application is highly valued. For details, email or call 319-892-6488.

South San Juan Wilderness Trek Application 2022 (PDF)


Four Pillars of the Trek:

  1. Stewardship: Participants will work on a stewardship project designated by the Forest Service and Step Outdoors. Projects may include trail maintenance, campsite rehabilitation, ecosystem monitoring and restoration.
  2. Study of Wilderness: Through this trek, participants will form a personal definition for wilderness. After reading about the idea of wilderness, trek leaders will facilitate discussion on the philosophy, importance, and ideas of wilderness.
  3. Environmental Science: Trek leaders will stop for trail-side lessons whenever the opportunity comes up. These mini-lessons may cover aquatic biology, tree/flower identification, fire ecology, and more.
  4. Outdoor Skills: Leave No Trace. campsite set-up, backcountry cooking, water filtration, and sustainable camping skills will be gained.


Trek Timeline:

Thursday, March 10, 6:30pm:

Parent and Student information session at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center will include a trek presentation followed by time for questions. Program is open to anyone interested.

Friday, April 22:

Application and letter of support due. To request an application, email: or call 319-892-6488

April 29: 

LCC will make its final selection of applicants.

June 1, 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM:

Mandatory orientation session including team building, gear fitting, and backpacking skills training.

July 18, 9:00 AM - 12:00PM:

Mandatory gear shakedown. Trek leaders will go through packs as a group, distribute LCC gear such as tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, etc., and teach students how to properly pack up and distribute their gear. A short hike with fully loaded packs will follow. Loaded packs will be left with trek leaders at the end for loading.

July 19 - 29:

Two - week trip into the South San Juan Wilderness!


Trek Leaders: 

Linn County 

Tamara Marcus is the Linn County Sustainability Director and a Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources and Earth System Sciences program at the University of New Hampshire. Tamara has previously worked with non-profits and local governments in the Indian Himalaya to translate her research into local environment policy. Ms. Marcus is also a co-founder of the Cedar Rapids based non-profit, Advocates for Social Justice.

Step Outdoors 

Stacy Boone has 20 years of outdoor experience. She speaks and facilitates workshops and seminars related to outdoor preparedness, self-care, first aid and survival proficiencies. Stacy began backpacking in 1998 and completed the Triple Crown in 2006. With over 20,000-miles on her hiking boots, Stacy is the owner and lead guide for Step Outdoors, LLC.

Linn County Conservation

Linn County Conservation Nature Center Manager, Kent Rector will lead the program. Kent is a certified Wilderness First Responder with ten years of experience leading outdoor youth programs. Kent has spent countless hours in Colorado's backcountry and wilderness areas hunting and exploring.





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