State urges mud-season hikers to be cautious – for themselves and fragile trails

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and its partners remind hikers of mud season at this time of year and ask for the public’s help protecting Vermont’s trails. This year, Covid-19 is still a dominant concern, even with more people vaccinated.

Mud season hiking has its own problems.
Photo by Yiorgos Ntrahas on Unsplash

FPR and partners are asking for the public’s assistance with making smart choices to protect both public health and trails during this vulnerable time.

Mud season conditions have begun and will persist in many places until Memorial Day or later: Trail closures may be in effect for several weeks.

The Green Mountain Club and other trail organizations are working hard to get the trails ready and opened in time for the traditional kick-off of the season on Memorial Day weekend. While mud season conditions persist, here are some tips to keep you and the trails healthy.

Plan ahead and prepare

The wet soils on and around hiking trails are susceptible to erosion. To protect fragile soil and surrounding vegetation, some trails may be temporarily closed by the land manager. Please respect the trail closure signage. Visit before you head to the trails. Staff will be updating trail conditions on Agency of Natural Resources lands on a weekly basis, so check back frequently.

If a trail is muddy, even if it is not officially closed, please find an alternative, less vulnerable area to hike in. If you want to help take care of the trails, contact the trail manager and consider volunteering.

“We are all excited to be outside after a long winter of social distancing and virtual meetings. Unfortunately, the mountains aren’t quite ready for hikers yet, so it is best that we all do our part and hike on lower elevation trails and backroads. Giving the higher elevation trails time to dry out will help protect the trails and make for a better hiking season for all of us later in the year,” says Mike DeBonis, executive director of Green Mountain Club.

For hikes better suited to mud season, click here. If a parking lot is full, please find an alternative place to recreate.

Dress for mountain weather

The period of snowmelt and muddy trails varies considerably depending on elevation, solar orientation, depth of snowpack and amount of spring rainfall. Even as it warms up in town, our mountains still hold 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 suggest.

If you encounter conditions you are not prepared for, please turn around. Especially right now,  emergency responders and medical providers do not need the additional burden and risk of a search and rescue operation or to treat a hiking-related injury.

Respect Covid-19 guidelines

As Vermont continues its work to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, FPR and its partners will continue to provide advice based on the Governor’s Executive Order and Department of Health/CDC guidance: Covid-19 guidelines may change but will still apply. For the latest information, click here.

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  1. Bob Sartini says:

    Trail Finder DOES NOT indicate which trails are OK by season at all. The link just has all the trails. Not really helpful.