The Green Mountain Club (GMC), maintainer of Vermont’s Long Trail and Vermont’s hiking trail advocate, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR), manager of State Forests and Parks, announce that Mud Season has returned to the Green Mountains a month early.
They ask hikers to stay off muddy trails from now until Memorial Day weekend; the forest has not caught up with the variable climate so the trails will remain wet, muddy, and prone to erosion. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause irreversible damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails, and inhibit natural drainage of beloved hiking trails.
The wide range of temperatures will continue through April into May. Together with this winter’s high elevation snowfall that rarely reached the valleys, the mountains are hiding cold, wet, snowy, and icy conditions that may persist deep into Spring, like always.
Conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Hikers venturing to high elevations will need better traction and warmer clothes than the valley may hint at. If you encounter conditions you are not prepared for, turn around.
This is good advice for hikers in all mountain terrain. Whether it be New England, the Southern Appalachians, the Rockies, Cascades or Sierra Nevada; give the trails a chance to heal during mud season. They will still be there waiting for us.