Mud season keeps some hiking trails closed

By  | 

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) All this rain and snowmelt isn't just making roads and homes soggy, hiking trails are muddy, too. Every year, state officials ask the public not to ruin the trails by getting on them too soon but every year there are problems.

Officials at the Vermont Department of Forest Parks and Recreation say they understand people want to get out and enjoy the trails but they want the public to understand that the paths are fragile.

One of the problems is that many of the trails are wet, saturated and muddy-- especially now.

What officials see this time of year is people avoiding the mud and walking around it, but that widens the trails and the impact area, creating more work for the trail crews. It also damages vegetation and can cause erosion.

"A lot of the displacement of the dirt on the trails, it moves it downstream, it moves it out of our drainage and into a stream so there's sedimentation that happens from it," said the department's Jessica Savage.

She says if you start a hike and it becomes muddy, turn around. If you can't, she asks that you go through the mud instead of around it.

Savage suggested some alternative outdoor activities like taking advantage of bike paths.

We asked her how all of this is enforced and she said at most places it's done by the honor system and that there are no trail police.

Click here for a list of trails.

Click here to find out which trails are open.