Spring melt makes miserable muddy foothill trails

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - All the snow in the foothills is slowly melting as we get closer to spring. Unfortunately, this natural process is creating muddy conditions on the Ridge to Rivers trail system and muddy trails can lead to damaged trails.

Zachary Schoenfelder thought Thursday was a nice day for a hike, but his trip quickly turned into a slippery, gunky mess.

"It was a lot muddier than I thought it would be. It was really slippery. I didn't end up falling until the last 30 feet of the trail," says Schoenfelder.

Risking a fall isn't the only reason muddy trails should be avoided. Soft mud creates large footprints, that harden into uneven, degraded trails.

When hikers go around the mud they trample vegetation, which leads to trail widening and damages the environment.

"When you start hitting muddy pockets and you are consistently leaving footprints for tire tracks that are sinking in an inch or two inches into the trail tread, you should turn around and go back," says Todd Graeff, Lead Trail Ranger.

An out-and-back hike strategy should be used this time of year, rather than a loop. That way if you run into mud mid-way through your hike, you can just cut the hike short and head back.

Trail managers maintain frequent outlooks on the Boise Foothills Trail Conditions facebook page.