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Briefly, the Trail Guards evolved from the State of Minnesota "Clean The River" program. The City of Paynesville, MN participated in this during the late 80's and early 90's, and when Tom Koshiol was "tricked" (by former mayor Dick Moreland!) into taking over, he proposed to the city to begin a trail system along the North Fork of the Crow River, which runs along the north edge of town in Paynesville. The city owns a beautiful 12 acre parcel of that river bottom area, and that was to be the trail head.

In the spring of 1992, volunteers began clearing trails, and a stairway and footbridge were constructed with funds solicited from local service organizations. Kids seemed naturally drawn to the area, and to the ongoing activities, so Tom decided to put them to work. They asked to be trail guides, and guide folks along the new trails. Tom said they really needed trail "guards" to guard the new trails from vandals and troublemakers.

The Trail Guards was really born then and there. A local business (Tom's employer, Voss Plumbing and Heating) offered to provide T-shirts, and soon a growing number of kids began to meet at the new "Crow River Nature Park" to work under Tom's direction.

Click here to learn more about the park!


Now, after many years, we are a non-profit, incorporated, private youth group with hundreds of young participants throughout our history.

About 50 kids are involved annually, 30 or so on a pretty regular basis. We sponsor incredible outings each year at no cost to participating youths, including whitewater rafting; wilderness camping/canoeing Boundary Waters Canoe Area trips; local outings to canoe, fish, and rock climb; a canoe/kayak trip through the Everglades; and overnight bicycle trips.  We also sponsor one youth annually on an international bicycle tour, and perform our yearly "My Room" project--a complete bedroom makeover for a deserving young Trail Guard--over the winter months.

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