Watch your step

The state has cleared outdoor activity as safe, if social distancing and good hygiene are followed, but it’s still mud season on a lot of trails — so stay off those.

So, you no longer have to stay off Vermont’s trails because of the COVID-19 crisis, provided you behave, but you do have to worry about mud.

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and its partner groups note that Gov. Phil Scott has issued a “Play Smart and Play Safe” addition to his Stay Home/Stay Safe order, encouraging Vermonters to get outdoors for recreation as long as they stick with rules on social distancing and hygiene. Vermonters may leave home to get fresh air and exercise and resume limited social interactions and gatherings of 10 or fewer, preferably outdoors.

However, mud season conditions persist in many places and trail may still be closed for several weeks.

The Long Trail, its side trails, and facilities including shelters and privies are currently closed on state lands. Facilities including shelters and privies are also closed in the Green Mountain National Forest.

The Green Mountain Club is asking everyone to avoid using the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail, side trails, and facilities until further notice.

Forest Service officials in Vermont, in alignment with federal and state health and safety guidance, are currently restricting overnight camping at designated campgrounds and shelters. The Forest Service is also prohibiting the use of backcountry privies along the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail segments on the Green Mountain National Forest.

The Green Mountain Club is working hard to get the trails ready to open in time for the traditional kickoff of hiking season on Memorial Day weekend. It’s are asking hikers for patience and help in stewarding the trails as the hiking season gets up and running.

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