COLORADO SPRINGS — This winter's freeze-thaw cycle is taking a toll on local trails. Rangers with Colorado Springs Parks want to spread the word so trail users can help curb the issue.
"What we're seeing is a snow, ice, thaw, mud, freeze scenario, said Ranger, Gillian Rossi, “Which kind of wreaks havoc on the trails and creates really sensitive trail conditions. Especially when there's mud present." The last week of February in Colorado Springs started with trails frozen, but a warm by the end of the week will, once again leave muddy areas on trails.
Colorado Springs Parks Rangers work to educate trails users about the “Leave no Trace” principles.
"The second one is travel on durable surfaces-- mud is not a durable surface," said Rossi.
Best case is staying away from muddy areas until they dry. If out and encountering mud on the trail leaves you few options, the best action, is going directly through the mud. "Shoes can dry overnight, but the erosion issues, re-vegetation that trying to hike around the mud causes, that can take years or even never to become a sustainable pathway again," said Rossi
This is a long-time issue getting worse with increasing population and visitors in Colorado Springs "Cumulative impacts are what we're noticing” said Rossi, “With an increase in users, which we love, we love getting people outside on our trail system, it's not one users impact that's creating these muddy unsustainable conditions, it's hundreds throughout the day on the same trail" The suggested solution is more people, means more of us need to be more careful.