Vermont’s Long Trail Reopens After Mud Season; COVID-19 Precautions Issued

The Green Mountain Club declared mud season over and reopened the Long Trail to hiking on May 22, but reminded hikers to take precautions because of COVID-19.

“Hiking is the ideal outdoor recreational activity for these times since you can get outside for exercise and fresh air while still adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines, but let’s be smart about it, and above all, let’s be sensitive to trail conditions and courteous to other hikers itching to get out just as much as we are,” the GMC said in a statement here.

Shelters and privies on the Long and Appalachian trails in Vermont remain closed, with a target date of June 15 to reopen some in a reduced capacity. Dispersed camping is allowed at some locations on the trails.

GMC staff and volunteers are still working to clear trails and blowdowns, but the club warned that hikers on the LT and AT should expect unmaintained trails and trail-related facilities for the foreseeable future.

The GMC also has an FAQ page for Long Trail thru-hikers. The club is asking Long Trail thru-hikers to postpone their journey until fall 2020 or until 2021.

The club reminded people that out-of-state visitors to Vermont are being asked through at least June 15 to self-quarantine for at least 14 days after arriving in the state and before engaging in any activities. More information about Vermont health and safety precautions can be found at the Vermont Department of Health website.

The GMC, which maintains the LT and AT in Vermont, as well as backcountry shelters and campsites, issued the following guidelines for what it calls “COVID-19 trail etiquette.”

—Stay at least six feet from others, and keep dogs on a leash.

—Carry a face covering and put it on before approaching within six feet of another person.

—Give a friendly “Hello” to others on trail to let them know you’re approaching. If the trail isn’t wide enough to accommodate six feet of distance, step six feet off the trail and wait for others to pass. Do not continue hiking and create a new trail parallel to the existing one.

—Hike single file, even on wide trails. Do not gather in groups on trail.

Even though trails are open after mud season, deep snow remains in higher elevations. The Mount Mansfield weather station reported 30 inches of snow at the summit on May 22, compared with 11 inches in an average year at that time.

And some trails may still be muddy. This is Vermud, after all.

The GMC asks hikers to walk through mud and water on trails rather than stepping off trail and damaging the surrounding vegetation.

Featured image courtesy Aidan Tierney.

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