Please Respect Mud Season
It's important to consider trail conditions with our wacky mud season
General Contact: GMC
Media Contact: GMC
Phone: (802) 244-7037 ext. 111
Photo: Matt Larson
WATERBURY CENTER, Vt., March 20 – The Green Mountain Club today noted the early start to “mud season” and urged hikers to stay off muddy and high-elevation trails unless they still have snow or ice cover.
Rain and melting snow at higher elevations cause wet and muddy conditions on many of Vermont's hiking trails. When hikers tramp on saturated soils, they cause irreversible erosion and damage to the trail and surrounding vegetation.
While there is speculation that an early start to mud season means an early end to mud season, Mother Nature may have different plans. It takes a long time for saturated soils to dry out, especially when they are disturbed by hikers. Mud season in Vermont lasts from about maple sugaring time until Memorial Day.
“Please help protect the fragile alpine tundra and prevent soil erosion by staying off the trails during mud season,” Executive Director Will Wiquist asked hikers. “This will allow the trails to dry out and reduce the amount of maintenance required to keep them safe and enjoyable.”
The Green Mountain Club relies on roughly 1,000 volunteers and dozens of seasonal trail workers to keep up with this enormous task so trails are in good condition for Vermonters and visitors. The club is the founder and maintainer of the 272-mile Long Trail and maintains a total of more than 500 miles of trails across the state including the Appalachian Trail and a new trail in the Northeast Kingdom.
“Mud conditions are coming in early and the ground is not frozen under the snow much,” noted Dave Hardy, the club’s director of trail programs. “Meanwhile, people should pay close attention to weather forecasts and be aware of snow and ice at higher elevations. As much as things seems spring like it could very possibly snow again and be cold if you get hurt in the woods.”
The club encourages outdoor enthusiasts to explore the lower elevations and terrain with firm-footing. To find a list of some suggested hikes, click here.
Tips if you do hike during mud season:
· Walk through the mud, not around it! If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk on the vegetation beside it, turn back, and seek an alternative area to hike.
· Hike in the lower-elevation hardwood forest (unless it is muddy!) with southern exposure (south-facing slopes dry out first in spring).
· Avoid the spruce-fir (conifer) forests at higher elevations.
· Watch your footing on snow and ice. Be prepared for slippery and snowy conditions no matter how warm it is at home.
· Bring a warm extra layer as mountaintops are chilly year-round and Vermont’s weather can quickly change.
· Bring an extra pair of dry socks on your hike
· Stay hydrated and bring food for long hikes
You can find more mud season information here.