Mud Season & How to Stay Outside Kind

Angie Ripple

I’m sure I’m not alone in yearning for green grass under my feet and longer, warmer days that will allow us to enjoy the outdoor splendor we call home in Bozeman. It has been a terribly long winter, followed by the shoulder season of Sprinter, and then the local trail-keepers’ most dreaded time of year — mud season. May is prime mud season, there are a few easy ways to be kind to the trails this month.

The easiest way to avoid mud and stay Outside Kind is by sticking to paved trails, knowing which trails are driest, getting out early before the ground thaws, and knowing when to quit when you encounter a section too muddy to pass through. When you do encounter a muddy trail, it is better to go straight through it rather than stepping off on the shoulder or side. When you step off to the side, trail erosion takes place, and sensitive vegetation can be damaged. Creating social trails or shortcutting switchbacks is extra damaging in the spring, when vegetation is just beginning to grow. The number one rule is to stay on the trail.

Bozeman is lucky to have the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT), an awesome nonprofit committed to maintaining and building our community trails. Since 1990, GVLT has helped conserve over 78 square miles of land in Gallatin Valley and surrounding communities, as well as expanding the Main Street to the Mountains trail system to over 90 miles in length, providing recreation, transportation and a connection to nature for everyone in the community. GVLT budgets $50,000.00 a year for trail maintenance (mud season repair); last year, volunteers clocked over 1000 hours in trail maintenance alone.

If you love local trails and are willing to get your hands dirty, grab a shovel and volunteer for National Trails Day, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Every year on the first Saturday in June, hundreds of community members join GVLT for a morning of work to maintain or build our community trails. For more information about volunteering, go to Find our Greater Yellowstone Events Calendar online and at the end of them magazine for the best source of local events in our area.   

This was made by