Early spring through Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend
Please help protect the fragile alpine tundra and prevent soil erosion by staying off susceptible trails during Mud Season! This will allow the trails to dry out and reduce the amount of maintenance required each year to keep them safe and enjoyable. We know everyone is just itching to get out and enjoy the wonders of spring - we are too!
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 irreversible erosion and damage to the trail and surrounding vegetation. The Green Mountain Club, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and Green Mountain National Forest advocate responsible use of the state's hiking trails during mud season (usually between sugaring season and Memorial Day weekend). Sensitive alpine vegetation on the summits of Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump are most vulnerable to damage. The State of Vermont closes hiking trails on these mountains from mid-April to Memorial Day.
Some of the Long Trail has been worn down to bedrock by soil erosion over the years. Higher elevation soils take longer to dry out, and their higher content of organic material slows the drying process. A trail may be dry at the trailhead, but it will get muddy if you climb very high this time of year. Trails at lower elevations, dirt roads, and recreation paths provide excellent opportunities for early spring walking.
The GMC thanks hikers for their cooperation to help preserve one of Vermont's finest recreational resources.
Mud Season Hiking Guidelines
- 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.
- The State of Vermont closes all trails on state land including those on Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield from mid-April until Memorial Day weekend. Please do not hike in these fragile areas.
- Also avoid: Stratton Mountain, Killington Peak, Lincoln Ridge (Mount Ellen to Appalachian Gap), Jay Peak.
Mud Season Hiking Alternatives
- Burlington Bike Path
- Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail
- Stowe Bike Path
- Cotton Brook Area - Moscow/Stowe
- Alburg Recreation Trail
- Cambridge Greenway Recreation Path
- Mount Philo
- The Austin Brook Trail in Warren/Granville
- Thresher Hill & Pine Brook Trails
- The Cross VT Trail - runs west to east across VT.
- Liberty Hill & Contest Trails
- Stage Road in Jonesville to Duck Brook shelter via the LT
- Lefferts Pond
- Robert Frost Interpretive Trail
- Travel Around Middlebury Trail (TAM)
- Emerald Lake State Park Trail
- Harriman Trail
- Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail
- Woodford State Park Trails
- West River Trail
- Jamaica State Park Trails
- Equinox Preservation Trust - Manchester Village (behind the Equinox Hotel)
With the trails in State Parks, you should check in with the VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation to see if the park and trails are open. Their phone number is (802)241-3655.
If you know of other hikes or walks in your region that ARE suitable for foot traffic during Mud Season, please contact us at gmc (at) greenmountainclub (dot) org so that we can add them to this list!
Hiking descriptions for many of these trails can be found in the Day Hikers Guide to Vermont available for sale from the GMC at www.greenmountainclub.org Descriptions for some of the central VT trails can be found at the recreation page for the Green Mountain National Forest. You should contact the Rochester Ranger Station at (802)767-4261 to make sure these trails are open during mud season.
There are also many spring educational workshops offered by the GMC that can help you refresh or develop your outdoor skills. The The Mud Season Skills series of workshops are held indoors through April and May while the trails dry out.