Mud Season is Here: Help Protect Fragile Trail Environments
Today the Green Mountain Club (GMC), the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), and the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) call on Vermonters and recreational tourists to be wary of the return of mud season to the Green Mountains and to respect associated trail closures and advisories.
The wet soils on and around hiking trails are very susceptible to erosion at this critical time of year. To protect fragile soil and surrounding vegetation, some trails may be closed by land managers. We ask everyone to please respect the signage you see. 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.
“Even though it might feel warm and dry at your house, the trails at higher elevations are still very wet and vulnerable. 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, FPR’s Recreation Program Manager. “In between spring showers, we are all ready to hit the trails after a long, cold winter. 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, mountains are hiding cold, wet, snowy, and icy conditions that may persist deep into spring. Hikers who find themselves at high elevations will need better traction and warmer clothes than the valley may hint at. The GMC encourages hikers to use their best judgment. If you encounter conditions you are not prepared for, please turn around. If a trail is muddy, even if it is not officially closed, please find an alternative hiking spot.
“Lower elevation trails and backroads provide more sustainable opportunities for recreating during the spring months,” says Keegan Tierney, Director of Field Programs for the Green Mountain Club. “The sun melts snow and dries soils on lower elevation and south facing trails much sooner than those along the spine of the Green Mountains. Until the end of May, consider checking out trail systems that are maintained by our land management colleagues around the state, being sure to check on their websites for information before heading out.”
The Green Mountain Club, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the Green Mountain National Forest thank hikers for their cooperation in helping to maintain one of Vermont’s finest recreational resources, our hiking trails.
For information on mud season and alternative hike suggestions, call the GMC’s visitor center at 802-244-7037 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Vermont State Parks Call Center at 1-888-409-7579 (Mon–Fri, 9am–4pm). In addition, a weekly trail update with the latest conditions and a list of alternative hikes will be posted on the Vermont State Parks website at: https://vtstateparks.com/hiking.html
Established in 1910 to build the Long Trail, the Green Mountain Club is a private non-profit organization with over 9,500 members. The GMC is dedicated to maintaining, managing, and protecting Vermont’s historic Long Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Northeast Kingdom lands and advocating for hiking opportunities in Vermont. Every year more than 1,000 volunteers work so that future generations will enjoy the 500-mile Long Trail System.
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) is responsible for the conservation and management of Vermont’s forest resources, the operation and maintenance of the State Park system, and the promotion and support of outdoor recreation for Vermonters and our visitors. In addition, FPR is responsible for the acquisition, planning coordination and administration of all Agency of Natural Resources lands. Department employees are stationed throughout Vermont, including offices in Montpelier and at five regional locations. For more information, visit http://fpr.vermont.gov