Alternative Break

Spend Your School Break Making a Difference

Volunteer Vacation Icon with heart and trail tools

Make Spring Break
Mean Something

Volunteer Vacation Icon of two people sitting around a campfire under a starry sky

Make Memories Outdoors


Make a Difference

What is an Alternative Break with the American Hiking Society?

American Hiking Society’s Alternative Breaks are volunteer trail stewardship projects in America’s parks and forests designed specifically for college students and young professional groups. Part volunteer work project, part kick-back outdoor vacation.

Secure Your Alternative Break Today

To secure an Alternative Break location for your group or for questions about the program, please read the general information section, then contact Ellie Place at or 1-800-972-8608 ext. 704.

Want to join an Alternative Break as an individual student?

To learn more about the exciting new individual Alternative Break opportunity, please visit the Individual Students: James River State Park page, then contact to secure your Alternative Break today.
Keuka College

Receive Alternative Break Updates

Please fill out the following form to receive emails regarding the Alternative Break program.

Thank You Alternative Break Sponsors

General Information

Matthew Mage

The Crew

Alternative Break crews vary between 6-15+ students. Supervision during the project will be provided by our experienced project hosts. AHS offers Alternative Breaks for both student groups (minimum of 6) and new in 2024, we are offering one Alternative Break that is open for individual students to join from any college or university! Additionally, if you want to volunteer throughout the year as an individual, check out all the trips we offer as part of our year-round  Volunteer Vacations program. Volunteer Vacations are open for individual registration and are not limited to college students (There will be a variety of ages of participants on these trips).  Many of these trips will coincide with your spring and summer break.

The Setup

Most trips last one week with weekends used for group travel. Alternative Breaks combine day hiking, trail work, exploration, crew camaraderie, and FUN into a weeks time and are scheduled for your student group to participate during your school break. Never been hiking or done trail work before? We welcome you! Alternative Breaks don’t require any prior trail work experience, just a good attitude and a willingness to get a little dirty!

The Accommodations

Lodging options vary depending on the trip you choose. Alternative Breaks will offer either indoor accommodations (bunkhouses, cabins, lodges) or access to a campground site where you bring your own tent and camping supplies.  Most locations will offer access to indoor bathrooms and either a full-service kitchen or camp cooking gear for meal prep.

The Experience

Make new friends and share laughter over a campfire. Experience an amazing sense of accomplishment after building a bridge or restoring a neglected trail. Connect with the land. Experience nature first-hand. Spend your break doing something that makes a lasting difference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Past Experience

"Spending a week in the woods, volunteering outside every day, & forming close friendships with other participants was truly a fantastic experience."


Mackenzie H., Ohio State University

"Everyone felt a sense of community with the park staff & with each other even though we had all just met. It really brought us all together."


Morgan W., Centre College

"Every year I enjoy the challenge of completing a project with a group of hard-working, difference-making, iron-willed college students. Many projects these spring-breakers work on wouldn’t be completed if these groups didn’t volunteer their time to help."

Josh H., Project Host

Sarah Mekonnen

If you would like to secure a particular week/location for your group, first read through the General Information section to better understand the program and reservation process. Then contact Ellie Place at or call 1-301-565-6704 ext. 704 to inquire about availability and booking for your group. If you do not see a location or week that fits your schedule, please inquire with us. There may be some flexibility in scheduling and we will work with each group on a case by case basis.

Please Note:  Most Alternative Breaks are intended for college student and young professional groups.  To reserve a week/location, your group needs to have at least 6 participants. In 2024, we are offering one trip that is open to individual students. We are requiring that all volunteer groups abide by the AHS COVID-19 Volunteer Guidance.

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Mill Ridge Park, Tennessee

Host: Friends of Mill Ridge Park
Maximum Group Size: 8

Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia

Host: Virginia State Parks

Maximum Group Size: 14

Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

Host: Florida State Parks

Maximum Group Size: 16

Cumberland Trails State Park

Host: Cumberland Trails Conference

Maximum Group Size: 50
pocahontas state park

Pocahontas State Park, Virginia

Host: Virginia State Parks

Maximum Group Size: 14

York River State Park, Virginia

Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 15

James River State Park, Virginia

Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 12

Kiptopeke State Park, Virginia

Host: Department of Conservation & Recreation, Virginia State Parks

Maximum Group Size: 16

Natural Bridge State Park, Virginia

Host: Virginia State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 13

Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee

Host: Tennessee State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 20
Trinidad State Beach

Sue-Meg State Park, California

Host: California State Parks
Maximum Group Size: 12
Moran state park 2

Moran State Park, Orcas Island, Washington

Host: Washington Parks & Recreation Commission
Maximum Group Size: 15

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia

Host: Friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park
Maximum Group Size: 15