muddy feetThere’s really five seasons in the Northeast: spring, summer, autumn, winter . . . and mud.

Mud season is the cruelest of all the seasons. After a long, cold winter, the warm air beckons you to get outside. But the wet, sloppy trail conditions are terrible, and not just for your shoes. Hiking when conditions are wet and muddy can be murder on hiking trails by increasing erosion and destroying surrounding vegetation. It can be especially harmful on trails at high elevations.

But that doesn’t mean you should stay inside. You just need to find alternatives to trails that aren’t quite ready to play yet.

To help hikers cope with mud season, the folks with Vermont State Parks published a list of great Vermont hiking trails perfectly suited for the rigors of mud season. Below are a few suggestions. You can check out the full list of mud season hikes – and get tips for how to hike during mud season – on the Vermont State Parks website.

West River Trail – Billed as a “trail for all seasons,” this scenic 36-mile trail runs through Vermont’s West River Valley, traveling along the route of what was once a railroad track.

Woodford State Park – Trails wind through heavily-wooded spruce, fir and birch forest in this 398-acre park in Woodford.

Mount Philo State Park – Vermont’s oldest state park, Mount Philo provides views overlooking the Lake Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Thresher Hill/Pine Brook Trails –  This 5-mile hike in Rochester crosses several streams and passes through a young hardwood forest and an old hemlock forest.

See more Vermont mud hikes.