- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

WATERBURY CENTER, Vt. (AP) - The Green Mountain Club is urging hikers to stay off muddy and high-elevation trails.

The trails need time to dry out, according to club officials. Soil, especially at high-elevations, is still thawing and can take until Memorial Day to be completely dry. Trails that are especially susceptible to muddiness are those on north slopes or shaded by heavy evergreen cover. Staying off of trails helps protect them.

Walking on trails and dodging puddles can widen them and increase erosion.

“Please give our trails time to dry out for the summer hiking season,” Dave Hardy, Director of Trail Programs for the Green Mountain Club said. “Until the end of May, consider hiking on south facing slopes and lower elevations where the sun can dry out the trails sooner.”

Hiking trails on state lands managed by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and Green Mountain Club are closed until Memorial Day weekend. And hikers are advised to not use trails in the Green Mountain National Forest until late May.

The Green Mountain Club is a private nonprofit organization that maintains trails. It was founded to build Vermont’s Long Trail in 1910. The historic Long Trail was the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States and it inspired the Appalachian Trail.

A list of suggested hikes for “mud season” is available at: www.GreenMountainClub.org.

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