According to the calendar, it's now officially spring. Whether that means several feet of snow on the ground or crocuses poking through the soil depends on where you live. For many of us, spring is synonymous with mud season. Here are a few mud season reminders:
Muddy trail or access road,
like above? Head straight through, not around mud or water.
Certain hiking trails should be avoided during mud season,
especially more fragile terrain at higher elevations. Some trails may
even be closed to protect them (Vermont, for example, usually closes trails on
state land from mid-April until Memorial Day weekend). Even if a trail
isn’t closed, consider whether you can hike it responsibly.
you do encounter a muddy stretch, remember to stay in the middle of the
trail and hike single file through the mud, not around it. Trying
to keep your feet dry by circumventing muddy puddles just tramples
vegetation, causes soil erosion, and spreads the mud—and trail—wider and
If a trail is just too muddy to travel straight through,
consider turning back and hiking somewhere else, rather than causing
irrevocable damage. Hikes at lower elevations and those with southern
exposure are likely to have drier conditions.
that that melting snowpack can raise stream crossings by several inches
in a day. So carefully evaluate the safety of crossing a particular
stream both heading out and returning, when water levels can be higher
and currents faster. You may want to avoid trails with stream crossings
Be a safe and responsible hiker, but don't let a
little mud or rain keep you inside this spring either. After all, you
know what comes after mud season, right? Black fly season.