Dieselbikes Logo Image

"New England Mountain Bike News & Trail Information"
Web Dieselbikes.com


Mud Season…Time to let the trails dry out!


It’s that time of the year!  You go outside, the snow is melting, the temperature is in the mid 50s, the sun is shining bright and the itch to hit the trails on your mountain bike is overwhelming.  Does this sound like you?  Well you’re not the only one that feels this way.  Just about everyone who loves the outdoors feels this way once the first sign of spring is upon us.  But even though the weather conditions are great and you are ready to hit the trails with your mountain bike...are the trails ready for you? 


Muddy Ruts - Vietnam Trail Network

The answer to this question is simple…but yet also complex.  If you analyze this question from one’s personal opinion, their answer will depend on what recreational activities interest them.  Mountain Bikers, Equestrians, (the list can go on and on) and Land Managers will all have different opinions about this time of the year we at Dieselbikes are calling "Mud Season".


In general, many Land Managers would like to have all park users (this means everyone) not utilize the trails during this transitional thaw period from winter to spring.  Many Mountain Bikers feel their bikes are made to ride in the mud and any environmental trail damage is blown way out of proportion.  Many Equestrians feel these rules do not apply to them since their recreational park use is of minimal impact.


If you analyze this question looking at the environmental impact resulting from recreational trail use during "Mud Season", then you open up a whole new can of worms.  Trail impact studies, environmental surveys, political turmoil and civil unrest between different park user groups become the norm that everyone must deal with.  When such civil unrest becomes prevalent on multi-use trails, mountain bikers are usually the "User Group" that gets restricted and/or (in some cases) expelled from the park all together.


Water Filled Trail Section - Lynn Woods Trail Network

The truth of the matter, regardless of user opinion and political turmoil, if you’re on a trail that is muddy, you are causing environmental damage.  Different recreational activities will result in more or less trail damage, but this fact applies to everyone.  Since land managers can not stop everyone from using their respective parks, rules have been created to maintain some form of trail protection.  Some rules may be foolish like; "why can we not bike during the winter when the ground is frozen", or "why are we just limited to one mountain bike loop that is mostly fire road?"  But these are the rules. 


Here in Massachusetts the mountain bike community is fortunate to have many parks (public and private) open year round to mountain biking with few closed during the winter months and even fewer completely off limits to mountain biking.  But regardless a park is open year round to mountain bikers, this particular time of the year (March – May) is a sensitive period for our favorite trails.  Soil type, wet weather conditions and melting snow all make the trail thread soft.  When you ride your bike on a muddy trail and/or a section of mud, your tires act like a knife cutting into the trail leaving ruts.  These ruts then fill with water and over time erode the trail to a point that it becomes unappealing to all park users…even mountain bikers!


Knife-like Tire Ruts - Vietnam Trail Network

All this boils down to having some common sense.  Every year the mountain community goes through the same drill about wet trail conditions.  Every year Mountain Bike Advocacy groups come under fire because of bikers whom have that; "I don’t give a S@#T attitude."  Again, it’s having some common sense when riding wet muddy trails.  No one is telling the entire mountain bike community that you can not ride your bike during this time of the year.  If the park and or trail is closed, then all we can ask is that you follow the rules as best as possible and become part of "The Solution" instead part of "The Problem" as perceived by non-mountain bikers.  If the trails are open and you see a muddy section, try to avoid it or make best efforts to cause minimal trail damage.  Better yet, take a picture, mark that section on a trail map and contact your local bike advocacy group whom works to maintain those trails and help them repair that muddy section before it turns into an environmental problem.  The solution is that simple.


Lynn Woods is a perfect example of mixed trail conditions.  When Lynn Woods officially opens on April 15th the condition of its trails will still be in a somewhat sensitive state.  Regardless of the all the "ROCK" Lynn is known for, the majority of trails still will be soft and some sections completely muddy.  We at Dieselbikes are addressing these "soft" trail sections with Park Management.  Our goal it to eliminate as much sensitive trail sections, while maintaining a balance with other park users.


Fixing Wet Trail Sections - Lynn Woods Trail Network

Bruce and Tom’s in Gloucester and Vietnam in Milford are two other locations that contain mixed trail conditions, but also have a number of private land owners that add to the sensitivity of the trail system.  Hundreds of volunteer hours are spent creating and maintaining these trail networks for the mountain bike community.  In some cases, trail conditions at both locations are far worst then Lynn Woods due to the composition of the soil, number of riders and availability to ride year round.


Another factor to ponder regarding wet muddy trails is this...  Most, if not 95% of the local trails we ride were designed out of necessary many decades ago for people to walk and hike.  Mountain Biking was never in this equation.  This affectively means many trails will have sharp turns, poor line of site (for bikes) and will not utilize rock features that provide a better sustainable trail bed for mountain bikers.


Whether you agree or disagree with these statements, the fact remains that soft, wet, muddy trails are sensitive.  We as a mountain bike community need to understand these facts and develop ways to educate our riding community, but also design trails to reduce and/or eliminate “soft” trail sections.


The moral of this article is…use common sense when riding during “Mud Season”.


By: Diesel

Date: 03/28/2007




[News] [Diesel] [Trails] [Tech] [Media] [Links]

[Gear] [BlogSpot] [Events] [Rides] [Reports] [Music] [Film]


Homepage - Contact Us

Use of this website signifies your agreement to our Legal Terms

Copyright 2004 ~ 2011