Hiking muddy trails is causing longterm damage

February 4, 2014 

Ridge to Rivers trails users have been damaging and widening trails by hiking, running and biking when the trails are wet. This picture, posted to the Boise Foothills Trail Conditions Facebook page on Feb. 1, shows heavy damage on the Crestline trail.


— Foothills trails are being abused by hikers, runners, and others, and it’s causing long-term damage to the popular trails system, according to Ridge to Rivers officials. Ridge to Rivers provides daily trail condition reports HERE and on its Facebook page.

Ridge to Rivers manages the popular trails in the Foothills, and it reports that rain and snow and warmer temperatures combined with heavy use creates a recurring problem. “Unfortunately this is the same problem we see every year,” says Ridge to Rivers Trail Manager David Gordon. “Trails are being widened as users walk to the sides to avoid the mud, and deeply rutted when they continue through softening soils.”

Waterbars constructed each fall to shed water from the trails are being flattened, leading to irreparable erosion, he said. “Folks need to realize that their taxpayer dollars are being spent unnecessarily in attempts to reverse the damage from irresponsible trail users, and that some of this damage just can’t be fixed,” he said. Ridge to Rivers officials say there are too many people continuing to use them under poor conditions despite increasing awareness that using trails when they’re wet and muddy causes damage.

“It’s very evident from the tracks in the mud, that most of the irresponsible use is from hikers, runners and their dogs, however, riders too can do their share of damage this time of year,” he said. Cold mornings before the temperature climbs above 30 degrees is typically safe, but direct sunlight can make trails muddy even when temperatures remain below freezing. “That’s when you need to avoid using them, or stick to sandy trails such as Lower Hulls Gulch,” Gordon said.

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