Prevent forest erosion: avoid muddy trails

VERMONT — The Green Mountain Club (GMC), maintainer of Vermont’s Long Trail and Vermont’s hiking trail advocate; and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), manager of state forests and parks, announce that mud season has returned to the Green Mountains.
They ask hikers to stay off muddy trails from now until Memorial Day weekend; the forest has not caught up with the variable climate so the trails will remain wet, muddy and prone to erosion. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause irreversible damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails, and inhibit natural drainage of the hiking trails.
The wide range of temperatures will continue through April into May. Together with this winter’s high-elevation snowfall that rarely reached the valleys, the mountains are hiding cold, wet, snowy and icy conditions that may persist deep into Spring, like always.
Conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Hikers venturing to high elevations will need better traction and warmer clothes than the valley may hint at. Hikers who encounter conditions they are not prepared for should turn around.
“It’s been an odd winter and we need exercise. If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk around it, please turn around and seek an alternate hike or another outdoor activity like biking or road walking,” recommends GMC Director of Trail Programs Dave Hardy. Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads and recreation paths provide excellent opportunities for spring activities.
The GMC and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation thank hikers for their cooperation in helping to preserve one of Vermont’s finest recreational resources, its hiking trails. For information on mud season hiking, contact the Green Mountain Club at (802) 244-7037 or [email protected], or visit www.greenmountainclub.org.
For a list of alternative mud season hikes, visit vtstateparks.blogspot.com/2013/04/mud-season-hiking.html.

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