Winter storms in the Sierra Nevada foothills can leave local trails a mucky mess.
To avoid trail widening, unnecessary erosion, soil damage, higher maintenance costs and labor demands, the trails crew at Bear Yuba Land Trust asks the community to be responsible trail users when the ground is water logged and muddy. Bikes and horses can cause the most damage, but foot traffic is also destructive when the ground is wet.
“If people must go out, we want them to stay on the trails. Please avoid walking around puddles because it damages vegetation and creates trail widening,” said Land Access Manager Shaun Clarke.
Clarke recommends hikers reschedule an outing when storms hit because windy conditions can be dangerous. Tree roots can lose their footing, rocks can tumble down slopes and high winds can break branches and topple trees.
For folks who just can’t help themselves and need to get outside despite foul weather, it’s recommended to use alternative trails like the paved Litton Trail located off Sierra College Drive, the paved bike path around Western Gateway Park or the Hardrock Trail at Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley.
Trails can take a week or two to dry out depending on the slope, elevation, and soil type. Look for south-facing trails and trails at lower elevations that dry out more quickly.
Water is the number one enemy of the trail. Bear Yuba Land Trust uses federal trail building standards designed to minimize water impacts and endure a beating.
“The idea is that if a trail is built right the first time then it won’t need much maintenance if trail users follow the rules and stay on the trail,” said Clarke.