Mud Season Hiking -- What You Need to Know


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 winter, and heavy spring rains, the trails will take longer than normal to firm up.  A trail may seem 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 Bay Point Trail and Park Roads

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
Kingsland Bay State Park
Mount Philo State Park Road

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 April 15 through the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. 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.

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

Comments

  1. Coming to your state April 15th for the weekend. Essex. It looks like we may not be able to hike? Do you have suggestions as to the hikes we may be able to do? Moderate is fine...

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  2. Hi--There are some good hiking options listed in the article above. Depending on the weather, yes, the trails could be muddy April 15, and we would ask to please not hike on muddy trails. Hope you enjoy your visit.

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  3. Hike around Indian Brook Reservoir in Essex. It's only a mile. Might be nice before breakfast. Go out to the Audubon nature center in Huntington. Maybe an hour hike with views of Camels Hunp. Longer if you head off to the birds of Vermont museum. Also Audubon Nature Center might be boiling - making maple syrup. Otherwise check out the walks listed above. Cambridge and Stowe/Morrisville might be the best

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  4. My family and I are looking to go to Jamaica State Park this weekend (4/16/16), and never having been there, I'm wondering if someone could tell me a little more about what the hiking trails are like. Is the climb up the ridge on Overlook Trail very difficult? Same question for Hamilton Falls Trail to get to the bottom of the falls. How about wildlife. What can we expect to see? Is it a park heavily visited this time of year on a weekend day? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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  5. Hi Tracy,
    Here is a link that should answer all your questions:
    http://vtstateparks.blogspot.com/2016/03/mud-season-hiking-what-you-need-to-know.html#comment-form
    Enjoy the park.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sorry wrong link here is the correct one:
    http://www.vtstateparks.com/pdfs/jamaica_trails.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, is it still muddy around Jay Peak or it is dry enough to hike because of an early season?

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  8. Hi Patrick, Jay holds its snow longer than any mountain, so its still muddy/snowy.

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  9. AnonymousMay 11, 2016

    How is equinox mt i.e black flies and muddy and ice? Anythig like the whites?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Nate-I was in that area this past week and higher elevations are still muddy and black flies are beginning to come out, but they weren't too bad.

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  11. Hi, do you think its possible to hike Mansfield like may 20-21 ? Or its still muddy? Thanks

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  12. Hi -- as of May 16 trails still muddy and fragile and we ask folks stay off the high elevation trails, especially Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump until Memorial Day weekend. Thanks!

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  13. Hi there, we noticed that the Long Trail (Mt. Mansfield east route) opened up today. Is the west route, Sunset Ridge Trail, open as well?

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  14. Hi there, I was looking to come out and hike 3-4 days with my husband during the muddy season. We are looking for moderate to difficult hiking but would like to stay out of the mud as much as possible. Any longer trails on this list you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rail trails and rec trails are good if you want a longer distance, and the Mt Ascutney parkway is a good hill-climb to avoid the mud. Conditions are so variable in mud season, if you're interested in one of the more difficult trails in the greens, it's good to call the Green Mountain Club ahead of time for info since they have an idea of the latest conditions on their trails.
      Have fun!

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