BENNINGTON -- Despite winter's brief resurgence, some hikers might be suffering cabin fever badly enough to brave Vermont's hiking trails; however, they are being asked to hold off until drier weather.
The Green Mountain Club, a private non-profit that maintains the Long Trail, declared Tuesday to be the start of "mud season," and asked hikers to keep off muddy and high elevation trails unless they have snow cover.
State hiking trails managed by the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation are not open until Memorial Day, giving time for them to thaw and dry out. According to a release from the Green Mountain Club, while backyards may be dry, it takes longer for the hills to do the same.
"Please give our trails time to dry out for the summer hiking season," said Dave Hardy, director of trail programs for the Green Mountain Club, in a release. "Until the end of May, consider hiking on south facing slopes and lower elevations where the sun can dry out the trails sooner. And please stay on the trail rather than walking around puddles so the trail doesn't widen and create new erosion problems."
The club has a list of mud season-friendly hikes at www.GreenMountainClub.org.
Staying off muddy, wet trails is common etiquette, said Ethan Ready, public affairs officer for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
"You don't want to cause damage to trails you are going to use later in the year," he said in an interview.
People on wet trails tend to go around muddy or flooded spots, and when they do they create their own paths which can lead to problems in the future. "We ask people to be patient and wait for drier conditions," he said.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.