Please keep in mind how your trail activities might affect other trail users, especially in the spring.
As snow melts and the ground thaws, the trails become extremely muddy. Using really muddy trails at this time can result in ruts that stay all summer when the trails dry out. Those ruts can make the trails difficult to use all summer and into the next winter. They help create erosion by keeping water on the trails.
Early season damage of trails is a recurring problem. Many people are chomping at the bit to get outside once the snow melts. And some people love to get as muddy as they can while out on the trails.
Some people love to point fingers at motorized off-road vehicles. And while they can do a lot of damage, they are not the only way a soft trail can be damaged. Bikes can leave deep ruts. Foot traffic and horses can also chew up soft trails. We ALL should keep in mind how we are affecting trails for other users.
With a little thought this problem can be greatly reduced.
- Try to be patient. Stay off the trails if you can. If you are unsure if a trail is ready to be used, check it out with the commitment to turn back if you are doing too much damage.
- Choose low impact. If you use the trails in several different ways, choose the method of travel that will cause the least amount of damage if you do run into some muddy sections.
- Pick your trails carefully. Use well-drained trails with lots of southern exposure. They typically dry out the quickest. If you just have to get muddy, please limit your activities to trails that are already thrashed. A little more damage probably won’t make a big difference, but a trail in nice shape can be damaged for a season in a hurry.
An alternative to using trails in the spring is to get out on foot or by bike and go explore quiet subdivision roads new to you. You get to be outside, be active, and probably find out new things about your community. For additional ideas see this Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story.