Six Tips for Soggy Springtime Hikes

Once you’ve got the right gear for muddy springtime hikes, you’re ready to hit the trails!

But before you rush out the door, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to stay safe this season.

This article, brought to my attention by my friend Dave at Vegan Start, has really got me thinking about causing the least amount of harm when I’m in the woods. So I’ve also included some tips on keeping your impact on nature to a minimum.

Photo from Mud Season: Adirondack's Fifth Season by Andrew Hamlin. See the full article here:

Photo from Mud Season: Adirondack’s Fifth Season by Andrew Hamlin. See the full article here:

Check Trail Reports/Trail Conditions: Log onto your favorite message board or hiking website for current trail conditions so you can adequately prepare with necessary clothing and gear.

Bring extra layers: If you get wet, it’s important to be able to change into dry clothes and stay warm.

If you’re climbing a mountain, prepare for colder temperatures at higher elevations: When I was a mountain newbie, I once started an October hike in beautiful, warm weather with calf length pants, a short sleeved shirt and a fleece. By the time I got to the top of the mountain it was freezing and snowing. Luckily I had a warmer jacket in my pack, but I was so cold! As soon as I got back to a lower elevation I warmed right up, but I definitely learned my lesson that day.

Avoid fragile trails during mud season to limit erosion and trail damage: Here in the Adirondacks, it’s recommended that you not hike above 3,000 feet until the trails have had a chance to dry up. Higher elevation trails take longer to dry out and the soil up there is shallower and more prone to erosion.

Walk through wet/muddy spots, not around: As tempting as it may be to skirt around the worst of the mud pits on the trail, this causes erosion of the ground on the sides of the trail and can damage the plants alongside it, too. Your waterproof boots and gaiters have your back. Slosh right through that muck!

Beware of water crossings: I recently saw a terrifying video of an ice jam giving way. The quiet, trickling water downstream quickly became a raging torrent, destroying everything it its path. Also, streams can go from tame to completely uncrossable during the course of a day as melting snow adds to water depth and speed. So be careful crossing and stay conscious of whether or not you’ll be able to get back across that stream on your way out. The Appalachian Mountain Club recommends unhooking your pack buckles when crossing water so you’re able to get out easier in case of a fall.

Always know what you’re getting into before you head into the wilderness. Being prepared and knowledgeable will go along way to making sure you enjoy your trip out of civilization and make it back safe and sound.

What’s your best springtime hiking tip? Leave a comment below and then share this post if you found it helpful.

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