Hikers asked to keep off Vt. trails - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hikers asked to keep off Vt. trails

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Karen Wozniak comes to the Long Trail to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. She enjoys the peacefulness of her trail runs.

"You can kind of really get into a zone out here," she said. "It's like you're the only person in the world. And so the only thing that matters is getting your feet on the ground and going."

And she's not alone. We met up with Kyong Rorison near the crowded parking lot in Duxbury. She says despite the closed sign, she hikes the Monroe Trail almost every day.

"About six or seven people I saw," she said.

Warmer temperatures are tempting outdoor enthusiasts eager to shake their cabin fever. But those who maintain the trails say it's simply too early to hike, especially the higher elevations.

"I figured, you know, if I'm not going to the summit, I didn't think it was a problem," Wozniak said.

Will Wiquist who heads the Green Mountain Club says it's a common misconception. Trails on state land are actually closed between April 15 and Memorial Day.

"Right now is the time to stay off the trail and make sure it stays around for generations and minimize the wear and tear on it," Wiquist said.

He says snow melt creates muddy conditions that can lead to costly erosion. When hikers walk through the mud, they damage the fragile trails. And when they avoid the muddy spots, they widen the trail, making it harder for volunteers to maintain.

"We've all come to that point on a hiking trail that looks like a herd path. People are kind of all over the place and it's not the trail we know and love," Wiquist said.

Trail heads can be deceiving. Down here dry conditions do not mean the summit will be the same. At this time of year, the state says you need to stay below 1,000 feet, and if you see mud, turn around.

"There's no game wardens or police officers out here, but if people can minimize their hiking then that minimizes the amount of work we have to do later on," Wiquist said.

A small step to preserve the country's oldest trail for generations to come.

The Green Mountain Club encourages people to use bike paths and low elevation hikes under 1,000 feet, like Mount Philo, until Memorial Day. Click here for a complete list of open trails.

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