April 18, 2019

Mud season rules in effect for higher elevations

The Green Mountain Club along with state and national agencies, remind hikers that wet soils on and around hiking trails are very susceptible to erosion at this time of year.

Land managers will post particularly fragile soil and vegetation as closed. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails and inhibit natural drainage.

“It can take hours for a volunteer or trail crew to fix what takes just moments to damage by hiking on muddy trails,” said state recreation program manager Jessica Savage. “In between spring showers, we are all ready to hit the trails after a long, cold winter. But 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. Even as it warms up in town, our mountains are hiding cold, wet, snowy and icy conditions that may persist deep into spring.

The Green Mountain Club encourages hikers to find an alternative area to hike if a trail is muddy, even if it is not officially closed.

“Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads and recreation paths all provide excellent opportunities for spring activities,” said 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 at (802) 244-7037 or email gmc@greenmountainclub.org. Trail conditions are updated weekly at vtstateparks.com.

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