Media Contact: Chloe Miller, Communications Manager, [email protected], 907-632-7405
Waterbury Center, VT — Despite the late arrival of winter this year, The Green Mountain Club reminds hikers that mud season is here, and we ask all trail users to stay off the wet and muddy high-elevation trails until they dry out, around the end of May. This will allow the trails to dry and reduce erosion and maintenance needs. While many trails are closed by the state of Vermont, conditions change rapidly this time of year, and we ask that hikers approach all trails with caution and an eye towards mud season stewardship.
- What: Mud Season Trail Closures and Hiking Guidance: Mud Season is the period from snowmelt/thaw (late March or early April) through Memorial Day weekend when many hiking trails are closed and we encourage hikers to stay off all high-elevation trails.
- When: Now through May 26, 2023
- Where: Throughout Vermont, though conditions will vary. Trails above 2,500 feet are the most susceptible to damage and the most important to avoid. Check closures with FPR and TrailFinder
- Why: Hiking through or around muddy trails causes soil erosion, trail widening, and tramples fragile vegetation on the edges of trail. For more about why mud season occurs and why it’s bad for the trails, contact GMC or visit: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/hiking/mud-season/
As Vermont’s weather changes due to impacts of climate change, with more intense rain storms and frequent freeze/thaw cycles throughout the winter, “Mud Season” becomes more of a year-round mindset. No matter the month, consider your impact on the trails and follow these guidelines to be a mud season steward:
- During Mud Season (Late March – Memorial Day) seek out durable surfaces and lower elevations. Respect trail closures and cautions, which are posted by Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation, on TrailFinder, and road closures, as these may impact access to trailheads. Check out GMC’s mud season hikes and Vermont State Parks’ mud season hikes.
- If you encounter mud on a hike, consider turning around and seeking an alternative trail. If you must continue, do so by hiking directly through the mud – not around its edges – in order to minimize your impact to the surrounding landscape.
- Vermont’s high elevations (above 2500’ feet) are most susceptible to damage, due to limited soil depth and rare, endangered arctic alpine plant communities
- Proceed with caution no matter a trail’s official status as open or closed. Be prepared for a variety of conditions: Warm, wet and muddy at trailheads and snow- or ice-covered at higher elevations. March’s high snowfall totals means the mountains will be melting out well into Spring. Check trail reports ahead of time and dress and pack for a variety of possible weather conditions.
- Enjoy the season! Look for early spring wildflowers and emerging amphibians and birds. Get ready and excited for hiking season by exploring GMC’s upcoming events: We have educational workshops, sales on hiking gear, and the trail sign auction is back!