May 21 Update
Trails on the Long Trail System will open tomorrow, May 22. However, it’s not as simple as that statement. With both a late snowpack and COVID-19 as dominant concerns this hiking season, we are asking hikers to take a few extra precautions to both protect public health and protect the public resource of our beautiful trails.
Hiking is the ideal outdoor recreational activity for these times since you can get outside for exercise and fresh air while still adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines, but let’s be smart about it, and above all, let’s be sensitive to trail conditions and courteous to other hikers itching to get out just as much as we are. Winter conditions and muddy conditions are still in place on many areas of the trail. Please plan ahead and prepare for any conditions you may encounter.
To protect public health, shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are closed. Trail managers are developing guidelines for the use of backcountry facilities and hope to open some facilities in a reduced capacity by June 15. GMC is encouraging day hikes only for now, but dispersed and primitive camping is allowed at some locations on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont.
Please read our hiking season blog for the latest information on trail conditions (including photos) and COVID-19 trail etiquette.
Our thru-hiker FAQ has also been updated.
May 6 Update
The Green Mountain Club is encouraged to see that Governor Scott is considering how Vermonters can best get outdoors in his new “Play Smart, Play Safe” addendum to the stay at home order.
Trail networks are now allowed to open as conditions allow. However, it is mud season in Vermont, and every year at this time, we ask hikers to stay off fragile, muddy trails. The Long Trail and side trails on state land are closed and we ask hikers to avoid closed trails until mud season is over. Trails that are oversaturated from snowmelt and spring rains are vulnerable to damage from soil compaction and erosion with every footstep. Soil compaction degrades the quality of the trail by reducing its ability to absorb water, causing increased flooding later and making it harder for vegetation to grow. Erosion then carries the soil away, leaving rocks and roots exposed. Due to COVID-19, we have reduced capacity for staff and volunteers to prepare and maintain hiking trails this year. Your help avoiding wet, muddy trails now will make a big difference in keeping trails in good shape for the hiking season to come.
In an effort to protect public health from the COVID-19 virus, facilities including shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are closed, on both state and federal land. These backcountry facilities can’t be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with VDH/CDC guidelines. We are working with public health officials and our land management partners to develop guidelines for the public to use these facilities as safely as possible.
We’re working hard to get the trails ready and opened in time for the traditional kick-off of hiking season on Memorial Day weekend. We’re asking for your patience and your help in stewarding the trails as the hiking season gets up and running.
In the meantime, spring is a great time for other outdoor recreation like cycling, paddling, and even road walking. Some open trails at lower elevations and on south-facing slopes may dry out earlier in the season and be appropriate to hike. When it does come time to recreate, hikers will need to make sure that they are still following all physical distancing, face covering, hygiene, and other guidelines set by the state. FPR has put out guidelines as to how this applies to outdoor recreation.
Thank you for doing your part to keep Vermont’s hiking trails in great shape! Vermont’s trails are some of its best features and we want everyone to enjoy them for a long time.
May 1 Update
Trail Maintenance: Along with the normal challenges related to mud season, GMC staff and volunteers have extremely limited capacity to conduct normal season-opening trail management at this time due to Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and social distancing requirements. While we have gained some limited capacity to conduct early season management work with the governor’s recent order amendments, staff and volunteers are operating under stringent guidelines in compliance with that order. For more information on these guidelines and what qualifies as appropriate management activities, please contact GMC Director of Field Programs, Keegan Tierney, [email protected].
Hiking Now: The Long Trail and side trails remain closed on state lands at this time. Due to mud season and the public health risk from COVID-19, the Green Mountain Club has asked hikers to please avoid using the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail, side trails, and associated facilities on all lands until the Governor lifts the Stay at Home order and mud season is over. We encourage everyone to get out and exercise and recreate locally, close to home.
Despite COVID-19 and mud season warnings and closures, areas of the Long Trail system are experiencing unprecedented levels of use. It is unclear what current and long-term impacts early and high-level use have had on trail resources. Please be a good steward and give the trails a break until mud season is over.
Hiking Later: In coordination with state partners and health experts, the club is developing guidance for hikers to stay safe on the trails this hiking season. Once trails open, hikers should expect public health and social distancing precautions to remain. New guidance for protecting public health at parking areas, shelters and overnight sites, and privies may be implemented and impact the use and availability of these services and facilities.
The 2020 hiking season is going to be different than past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hikers should expect some level of trail and trail-related facilities to be available this summer and fall, but availability may be limited to protect public health and trail resources.
Planning a Long Trail thru-hike or overnight hikes this year? Check out our FAQ for thru-hikers.
April 10 Update
Annual Meeting: Unfortunately, this year’s in-person Annual Meeting is canceled. We can’t move forward with planning while Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is in place, and it seems unlikely that many folks would want to join a large social gathering in June even if the order is lifted by then. Instead, we will host the business meeting and board meeting online on Saturday, June 13th. Please register on our website to receive an email with instructions on how to participate in the meetings from home.
We thank the Laraway, Northern Frontier, and Sterling Sections for their hard work in planning the meeting this year. They will have the opportunity to host again next year so their work will not have been in vain and you can all still visit their part of Vermont.
We will miss seeing you all in person and all the socializing and catching up that we get to do once a year at the annual meeting, but we think this is the best decision at this time. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Virtual Events: We have been working hard to switch our programming over to virtual events. We now have several upcoming educational workshops and exciting events that you can participate in online.
April 3 Update
Hiking: Under Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order for Vermonters, you are encouraged to get outside for exercise and fresh air. We encourage you to spend time outdoors locally with members of your own household and to stay 6’ or more away from anyone you may encounter.
We are in the middle of a health emergency and to avoid the spread of COVID-19, we all must stay home as much as possible. As of April 3, the Long Trail and side trails on state lands are closed by the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. The Green Mountain Club doesn’t have the authority to close trails on other lands, but we are asking everyone to please avoid using the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail, side trails, and facilities until the Governor lifts the Stay at Home order.
It is important to know:
- It is spring mud season, trail conditions in many locations are poor, and trail use on wet and muddy trails are always discouraged during this time of year.
- Under the Governor’s order, trail work and maintenance are not considered essential or critical activities and are prohibited. This means that GMC staff and volunteers cannot get out to prepare and maintain trails for public use.
We do not take this decision lightly but feel it is in the best interest of protecting public health. We recognize this is a difficult time and is made more difficult by decreasing access to the outdoors.
March 25 Update
Hiking: Under Governor Scott’s new “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order for Vermonters, you may be wondering about outdoor activities. During the press conference regarding this order, the governor endorsed getting outside for exercise and fresh air. Please just do this locally (not traveling to the Long Trail or other trail systems), with members of your own household, and stay 6’ or more away from anyone you may encounter. We recommend taking walks right out your door and exploring your neighborhood on any trails, dirt roads, or sidewalks you have available. Trails and parks in other states have been overwhelmed with use and had to close because people were not practicing correct social distancing. If we all enjoy the outdoors locally and responsibly, we may be able to avoid that outcome in Vermont.
This is a constantly changing situation and we are in daily discussions with our land management partners. We will continue to update you here with news when we have it.
Online Store: You may still order GMC publications and merchandise from our online store but, for the health and safety of GMC staff, orders will not be shipping until April 16th, once the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is over. Digital maps are available and can be downloaded immediately upon purchase.
Events: We are working on a variety of virtual events to bring the GMC to your home. Below are the events currently planned, but please check back here for more listings soon:
- Nature Story Time with GMC: Join Green Mountain Club staff on Facebook Live for a kids’ storybook reading every Friday at 10 AM. We know it’s hard for parents who are suddenly homeschooling to have enough activities to keep the kids engaged so we hope this offering will help. The books will all be nature-focused. To watch, just go to our Facebook page at that time.
- Online Outdoor Trivia with GMC: The need for social distancing has caused so many canceled events, but we can still have fun online! Join the Green Mountain Club online for a fun evening of outdoor trivia on April 2nd at 7 PM! Teams can be up to 6 people. We will share the Zoom online meeting link and other details before the event.
Volunteers: As of today, the club will cease all trail maintenance activities until the Governor lifts the stay at home order, currently set until April 15th. This includes all staff field work, partner meetings, section work trips, volunteer adoption and maintenance activity, and volunteer corridor monitoring.
March 23 Update
Yes, you can still hike! We want you to get out on the trails and your safety is our top priority. We ask that you limit your hikes to local day trips and avoid traveling and congregating in groups. Please continue to maintain social distance of at least 6’ between people even on the trails.
For the safety of all, we ask that hikers do not use any overnight sites, shelters, or privies until further notice. These facilities cannot be sanitized and may contain surfaces for the coronavirus to spread through. We also cannot guarantee a COVID-19 free experience while hiking. (With privies out of commission, make sure to Leave No Trace and dig catholes for any human waste.)
The current conditions are showing that it is mud season on some trails, while it’s still full winter on others, especially up high. Please be prepared for the conditions and be safe. Please consider that any accidents in the woods are dangerous for you and put a strain on first responders and our already overloaded healthcare system. You can reference more safety recommendations from Leave No Trace.
We know that hiking is good for our mental and physical health and can be a source of inspiration in difficult times. The Green Mountain Club is here to help you find your connection to the mountains. Our visitor center staff are taking calls and answering emails. We are working on virtual activities to keep you connected to the hiking community. Reach out using (802) 244-7037 or [email protected].
Please be safe when enjoying your outdoor pursuits.
To help you spend time outdoors, we have compiled a list of recommended day hikes in Vermont.
March 17 Update
We have made the decision to close GMC’s rental camps as a precautionary move.
- For the Bolton Valley camps, we will cancel and fully refund all standing reservations for the remainder of the season. We will reevaluate opening dates for next season’s bookings in mid-April.
- For Hadsel-Mares Cabin, we will cancel and fully refund all standing reservations between March 18 and April 30, and close the cabin to new bookings. We hope to open the cabin to new bookings again on May 1. We will reevaluate in mid-April.
March 13 Update
As the spread and impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continue across the globe and locally, the health and safety of our members, volunteers, visitors, and staff is the highest priority for the Green Mountain Club. GMC is following recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local health officials.
Based on these recommendations, the Green Mountain Club is implementing a plan to keep people safe while maintaining core operations. As we work to limit the spread of this virus, there will be impacts to GMC activities and events, and we want to share some important updates with you now. We will update our website and social media to reflect further changes, and you can always find the most up to date information here on our website.
Events: All Green Mountain Club organized in-person events have been canceled for the remainder of March and for the month of April. This includes all in-person presentations, workshops, and outings. We will invite any canceled Taylor Series presenters to participate in next year’s program and will look to reschedule canceled workshops during the hiking season. All registrants for March/April workshops will receive a full refund. The status of public events scheduled to occur starting May 1, 2020, will be evaluated on a periodic basis.
Camps: Our rental camps will remain open, but please be aware that these rustic cabins are not disinfected after use. If you need to cancel your reservation, you will receive a full refund; please contact our Visitor Center by calling (802) 244-7037 or emailing [email protected] for cancellations.
Visitor Center: Green Mountain Club’s Visitor Center in Waterbury Center will be closed until further notice. Our Visitor Center staff will still be available by phone or email to answer all of your hiking questions. Please call (802) 244-7037 or email [email protected].
Online Store: Green Mountain Club maps, publications, and merchandise will still be available in our online store and will continue to be shipped once a week.
Memberships & Donations: Staff will be operating with limited time in the office, which may result in delayed check and membership card processing. If you are looking to renew your membership, renewing online will result in the fastest processing.
Volunteers: All office volunteers are on pause while the Visitor Center is closed. Field volunteers will receive further instructions from the appropriate GMC staff liaison soon.
Staff: All GMC staff are working and available by phone or email during normal business hours. Work-related travel has been limited, staff is able to work from home as needed, and meetings have been changed from in-person to virtual.
Please know that the Green Mountain Club will continue its work to ensure that our trails and backcountry facilities will be maintained and prepared for this hiking season, and we look forward to the days of hiking ahead.
Thank you for your patience and support during this difficult time and our best wishes to everyone. We will send more updates as the situation changes. If you are not on our email list, please sign up here.