Green Mountain Club
Hiking Trails Closed During Mud Season
The Green Mountain Club advises backcountry trail users that the Long Trail and its side trails in Vermont are closed from April 15 through May 24, 2014 during the annual mud season.
In northern Vermont this includes trails from Camelís Hump north to the Canadian border on Mount Mansfield, Smugglersí Notch, Belvidere, Tillotson, & Haystack Mountains, Hazenís Notch and Jay State Forest.
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.
Mud Season extends into the nice weather because it takes time for the frost to get out of the soil and then the soils take time to dry out. Spring is a time when the Long Trail and other hiking trails are extremely vulnerable. Hikers are therefore urged to stay off hiking trails until Memorial Day.
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 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 early 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 Alternatives
Instead of hiking fragile high elevation trails during Mud Season, the Green Mountain Club suggests the following trails for hiking during mud season:
Mud Season Hiking Guidelines
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 trails in the Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield areas from early 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.
For more information
Contact the VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation at (802) 241-3655 to see if a particular park and its trails are open to hiking.
Contact the Rochester District of the US Forest Service at (802) 767-4261 for a list of trails that are open during mud season. Descriptions for some of the central VT trails can be found at the recreation page for the Green Mountain National Forest.
Some trails at lower elevations of the Connecticut River Valley, Class 4 town roads, or trails near Lake Champlain may be dry enough for hiking. Please remember that even these trails may be too muddy to hike.
Information on this page from the Green Mountain Club Website www.greenmountainclub.org
Green Mountain Club l 1477 Waterbury-Stowe Road l Waterbury Center VT 05677 l firstname.lastname@example.org l 802.244.7037