Green Mountain Club urges hikers to avoid muddy trails

STARKSBORO, Vt. (WCAX) – Using muddy paths causes erosion and makes maintenance difficult. It also has an impact on the environment.

“Be aware that the profile is in a pretty fragile state right now,” said Keegan Tierney, Green Mountain Club’s director of field programs. “A lot of people try to walk around the mud and that damages all the vegetation along the trail, widens the trail and hits ground that’s even more fragile than what’s in the trail’s profile.”

Tierney recommends sticking to gravel or paved trails like Mount Philo or Ravens Ridge until things dry. They are also much safer this time of year.

“Even though it’s definitely mud season, we’re actually encountering icy conditions and people don’t expect that,” said Brian Lindner, director of Waterbury Backcountry Rescue.

He says it’s still too early to trust the nice weather.

“Even if they leave the base on a warm day, it’s still winter up there when they get up there,” explains Lindner. “Something happens, they slip and fall and hurt themselves or get lost, they’re going to be up there for hours.”

Melting ice and rain can also create dangerous conditions at this time of year.

“There are places where the creeks are full, they are on full banks and it is very dangerous to cross them when the water is cold in sections.”

“It’s important that we find balance with the natural environment, and the trails are there to reduce our impact,” Tierney said. “There are a lot of us out there using the mountains, which is a great thing and we want everyone to be out there, but it’s also important to know how to do it right.”

According to Tierney, most trails should be dry by Memorial Day weekend.

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