Hello neighbors. We are all looking for ways to get outside these days, so I wanted to share some guidance from the Green Mountain Club related to hiking right now:

The Green Mountain Club is encouraged to see that Governor Scott is considering how Vermonters can best get outdoors in his new “Play Smart, Play Safe” addendum to the stay at home order.

Trail networks are now allowed to open as conditions allow. However, it is mud season in Vermont, and every year at this time, we ask hikers to stay off fragile, muddy trails. The Long Trail and side trails on state land are closed and we ask hikers to avoid closed trails until mud season is over. Trails that are oversaturated from snowmelt and spring rains are vulnerable to damage from soil compaction and erosion with every footstep. Soil compaction degrades the quality of the trail by reducing its ability to absorb water, causing increased flooding later and making it harder for vegetation to grow. Erosion then carries the soil away, leaving rocks and roots exposed. Due to COVID-19, we have reduced capacity for staff and volunteers to prepare and maintain hiking trails this year. Your help avoiding wet, muddy trails now will make a big difference in keeping trails in good shape for the hiking season to come.

In an effort to protect public health from the COVID-19 virus, facilities including shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are closed, on both state and federal land. These backcountry facilities can’t be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with VDH/CDC guidelines. We are working with public health officials and our land management partners to develop guidelines for the public to use these facilities as safely as possible.

We’re working hard to get the trails ready and opened in time for the traditional kick-off of hiking season on Memorial Day weekend. We’re asking for your patience and your help in stewarding the trails as the hiking season gets up and running.

In the meantime, spring is a great time for other outdoor recreation like cycling, paddling, and even road walking. Some open trails at lower elevations and on south-facing slopes may dry out earlier in the season and be appropriate to hike. When it does come time to recreate, hikers will need to make sure that they are still following all physical distancing, face covering, hygiene, and other guidelines set by the state. FPR has put out guidelines as to how this applies to outdoor recreation.

Thank you for doing your part to keep Vermont’s hiking trails in great shape! Vermont’s trails are some of its best features and we want everyone to enjoy them for a long time.

You can always find the most up to date information about trail closures and hiking recommendations on GMC’s website: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/covid-19-response/

Additional information:
Why Trails Are Closed During Mud Season: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/mud-season-arrived/
“Play Smart, Play Safe” Addendum: https://governor.vermont.gov/sites/scott/files/documents/ADDENDUM%2013%20TO%20EXECUTIVE%20ORDER%2001-20.pdf
FPR’s Outdoor Recreation & COVID-19 Guidelines: https://fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/outdoor-recreation-and-covid-19