Mud season is here; hikers should take care

Mud season has returned to the Green Mountains and officials at the Green Mountain Club, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the Green Mountain National Forest ask hikers to take care on trails that are wet and susceptible to erosion this time of year.

To protect fragile soil and surrounding vegetation, some trails may be closed by the land manager until things dry out. Please respect the signs. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails, and inhibit natural drainage of our beloved hiking trails, outdoors officials said.

“It can take hours for a volunteer or trail crew to fix what takes just moments to damage by hiking on muddy trails,” says Jessica Savage, a state recreation program manager. “Even as your yard is drying out, soils are still thawing at higher elevations. Saving your mountain hikes until the trails are dry will ensure a better, longer hiking season for all.”

The period of snowmelt and muddy trails varies considerably throughout Vermont depending on elevation, solar orientation, depth of snowpack, and amount of spring rainfall.  Cold, wet, snowy and icy conditions may persist deep into spring. Hikers at high elevations will need better traction and warmer clothes than in the valley.

The Green Mountain Club encourages hikers to use their best judgment. If you encounter conditions you are not prepared for, please turn around. The mountain will be there another day. If a trail is muddy, even if it is not officially closed, please find an alternative area to hike in.

“Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads and recreation paths all provide excellent opportunities for spring activities,” says Mike DeBonis, executive director of the Green Mountain Club. “Until the end of May, consider hiking on south-facing slopes and lower elevations where the sun can dry out the trails sooner. “

For information on mud season and alternative hike suggestions, call the Green Mountain Club’s visitor center at 802-244-7037 or email gmc@greenmountainclub.org or contact the Vermont State Parks Call Center at 1-888-409-7579 (Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.). A weekly trail update with the latest conditions and a list of alternative hikes will be posted on the State Parks website at: vtstateparks.com/hiking.html#mudSeasonHiking.

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