A view of Camel's Hump in Vermont from Mount Ellen. (dvs/Flickr Photo)

A view of Camel’s Hump in Vermont from Mount Ellen. (dvs/Flickr Photo)

Vermont officials have closed the state’s high elevation trails until Memorial Day weekend.

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, along with the Green Mountain Club – which maintains the Long Trail – are asking hikers to stay off muddy trails until Memorial Day weekend. They say trails are currently wet, muddy and prone to erosion. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause irreversible damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails, and inhibit natural drainage of hiking trails.

Officials often ask hikers to avoid high trails in the spring. But the announcement comes early this year because officials say mud season returned to the Green Mountains a month earlier than usual.

The Long Trail and its popular side trails on state lands are closed from March 18 to Memorial Day weekend. The popular summits of Mount Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, Jay Peak, Stark Mountain, and the Worcester Range are most vulnerable to mud season damage, and most likely to provide a winter experience when least expected. And north slopes and high elevation hollows along ridgelines also hold more snow deep into May.

Trails on the Green Mountain National Forest are not officially closed, but the USDA Forest Service asks hikers to avoid muddy high elevation trails like the Long Trail until Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s been an odd winter and we need exercise. If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk around it, please turn around and seek an alternate hike or another outdoor activity like biking or road walking,” recommends GMC director of trail programs Dave Hardy. Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads, and recreation paths provide excellent opportunities for spring activities. Click here for ideas for great mud season hikes in Vermont.

“High elevations retain snow and ice and hiking up there is like walking inside a refrigerator so preparation is important; we ask people to use their best judgment – the grass is greenest at the trailhead, and conditions will change quickly as you ascend the mountain” says Hardy.