Green Mountain Club asks hikers to avoid trails in mud season

WATERBURY — The Green Mountain Club has released its annual message advocating responsible use of hiking trails from mid-April until Memorial Day weekend; warmer temperatures and a substantial winter snowpack have made Vermont’s hiking trails wet, muddy and especially prone to erosion. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause irreversible erosion and damage surrounding vegetation of the Green Mountains.

Trails are closed from April 15 through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Closures include trails include Coolidge State Forest, Camel’s Hump State Park, Mansfield State Forest, Long Trail State Forest Jay State Forest and all other state forest lands. Trails on the Green Mountain National Forest are not officially closed, but the USDA Forest Service asks hikers to avoid muddy higher elevation trails like the Long Trail until Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s been a long winter and everyone is itching to take a hike. If a trail is too muddy that you need to walk on the soil beside it, turn back and seek an alternative area to hike or an alternate activity like canoeing or biking,” GMC director of trail programs, Dave Hardy said.

Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads and recreation paths provide excellent opportunities for spring activities.

“High elevation soils retain snow and ice longer, and they dry out later, so we ask folks to use their judgement since a trail may be ready for hiking at the trail head but will get softer and still have snowpack as you climb higher,” said Hardy.