Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mud Season Hiking: Tips and Tricks


When the snow starts melting and the temperatures get warmer, most of us want to get outside and hike! But, mud season is not a good time for hiking in certain areas. Rain and melting snow at higher elevations are keeping many of Vermont's hiking trails wet and muddy. When hikers tramp on saturated soils, they cause soil compaction and erosion as well as damage to the trail and surrounding vegetation. Please help protect the fragile trails this time of year by staying off muddy trails.

Higher elevation soils take longer to dry out. And after an epic snowfall this winter, and heavy spring rains the trails will take longer than normal to dry out.  A trail may be dry at the trailhead, but is muddy at a higher elevation this time of year. If you notice this happening, please turn around! Trails at lower elevations, dirt roads, and recreation paths provide excellent places for early spring walking.

Below is a list of great places to hike during mud season - enjoy!


Southeast Vermont:
Mt. Ascutney State Park Parkway (after mid April, when the ice has melted)
• Harriman Trail
West River Trail
Jamaica State Park Trails

Southwest Vermont:
Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail
Emerald Lake State Park roads
Button Bay State Park roads
Woodford State Park Trails

Northwest Vermont:
Burlington Bike Path
The Austin Brook Trail in Warren/Granville
Travel Around Middlebury Trail (TAM)
Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail
Cotton Brook Area - Moscow/Stowe
Alburgh Recreation Trail
Mallets Bay Causeway
Cambridge Greenway Recreation Path
Mount Philo State Park

Northeast Vermont:The Cross VT Trail - runs west to east across VT 
Thresher Hill; Pine Brook Trails
Liberty Hill; Contest Trails
Lefferts Pond
Robert Frost Interpretive Trail
Stowe Bike Path

Along with the warmer weather, there are many aspects of nature beginning to emerge for us to enjoy. Thank you for helping to preserve our beautiful natural resources!

Guidelines to follow when hiking this time of year
• If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk on the vegetation beside it, turn back and seek another place to hike.
• Plan spring hikes in hardwood forests at lower elevations.
• Avoid spruce-fir (conifer) forest at higher elevations and on north slopes before late May and from the end of October until frozen or snow covered.
• Camels Hump and Mt Mansfield trails are closed from snowmelt (now) until late May. Please do not hike here. Stay below 3000 ft during these times of year.

Staying away from certain places during mud season makes them ready to enjoy this summer. Have fun out there!

For more information, and other mud season hiking options, check out the Green Mountain Club Mud Season Hiking page.

Have fun out there!

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