Muddy Trails? Why you really should turn around.
Why should mountain bikers, runners and hikers avoid trails when they are muddy? The main reason is trail damage. When trails are muddy, they are soft. (This includes the Winter/Spring freeze thaw.) This means that your shoes and tires will dig in and create a rut. We now have a rut cemented into the trail that everybody has to deal with, making the trail less desirable to ride. Now more susceptible to erosion, rain and gravity will wash these loose soils away, leaving a mess of exposed roots, rocks and holes.
Not only do ruts effect trail users, but the people who maintain the trail. The majority of trails are maintained by volunteer groups. We owe our good times on the trails to these people. If you are reading this I encourage you to give back, volunteer or donate.
We know that it is tempting to ride/run/walk in the mud. Who doesn’t like to act like a kid and get muddy from head to toe? But think of the people that you are effecting when you damage a wet trail. Do your part, and respect the trail. These are all of our trails, after all.
Leave No Trace: “Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options.” (Source: IMBA Rules of the Trail)