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(Un)Happy Trails

Just Say No to Mud, and Help Protect Our Trails

To mud, or not to mud? For nearly everyone this month, that is the question. But the correct answer, as any good trail walker/hiker/biker knows, is always: not to mud!

Traversing soggy routes in the springtime can cause untold damage to our beloved local paths, which must then be painstakingly hand-repaired by volunteers and other trail stewards with nonprofits like Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. Although it might seem tempting to stomp in the sludge or kick up some muck on your mountain bike this season, muddy trails should always be avoided until they are dry and suitable for use later in the spring or early summer.

So what's the responsible Roaring Fork Valley hiker to do in April? Head up, way up, where trails are still frozen—or down, into lower elevations, where pathways are already dried out. We recently asked the Roaring Fork Trail Conditions Facebook group (some 3,000 local trail enthusiasts strong) about their favorite mud season jaunts. Here's what a few of them had to say:

Go Up

Grab your traction cleats and head upvalley to any number of trails that are still nicely frozen in April. Hiking these is a great workout, and you'll be rewarded with some gorgeous snowy spring vistas. Richmond Ridge in Aspen is a trail that Carbondale resident Yvonne Perry loves, noting that "it's usually still covered in snow a lot longer." Access it via the Silver Queen Gondola through April 18th.

Go Down

As snowmelt still drenches many Roaring Fork Valley trails this month, the desert is the place to be. Head west on I-70 and count on great dry hiking around Grand Junction, Moab, and anywhere between. Carbondale resident Ann Driggers recommends the Devil's Canyon trail system in Fruita, and Tanya Barnicoat of Glenwood Springs enjoys hiking Mt. Garfield near Palisade.

If In Doubt

Pound the pavement. If you're still not sure where to get some steps in, stick to the wealth of paved trails across the valley. It's the perfect time to rediscover the Rio Grande and Crystal Valley bike paths, notes local Janis Miles Taylor, or head up the popular Red Mountain Road in Glenwood. "The road is often dry earlier in the season, and isn’t likely to be as damaged with use," says Glenwood resident Morgan Hill.


To learn more about responsible trail use, donating funds, or signing up to volunteer, check out: