Go and Do: ‘Hike dirt, not mud’ springtime hiking do’s and don’ts – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A pair of hikers and a dog make their way back to the parking lot at the Red Hill trailhead near Carbondale.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Mud season. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s just plain, well, muddy. But for those of us itching to get outside and enjoy some spring hiking, it can be hard to say no after the long winter months.

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and trails are calling. However, in the shadows of canyons or on north-facing slopes lurks melting snow and mud.

During those first few weeks of spring, area trails are in their most fragile state because of moisture conditions and is often when most trail damage occurs each year.

Knowing the condition and geographic location of a trail before even heading out is the first bit of advice given by National Forest Service Recreation Manager Todd Parker, who works out of the Rifle district office.

Trails on north-facing slopes, along creeks and drainages or under tree cover are bound to be muddy this time of year. Damage done to trails early in the season will persist for the remainder of the year or longer.

“I urge the public to pick a trail wisely and avoid damaging trails if possible,” Parker said. “When you are on muddy trails, the best thing to do is hike down the middle. You’re going to get your shoes wet or muddy, but that prevents widening of the trail.”

A once muddy portion of the Red Hill trail system now dry sits rough and damaged.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Damaged trails have to later be fixed by trail crews that are in short supply and generally made up of volunteer groups such as Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers or Wilderness Workshop.

“They help us maintain trails because our resources are often limited. … I currently have two on staff that I count on every year to work in the summer and maintain the …….

Source: https://www.postindependent.com/news/go-and-do-hike-dirt-not-mud-springtime-hiking-dos-and-donts/

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