Responsible Trail Riding Tips During Mud Season - from the VisionMTB archive

This is from our archive (originally posted by Sick4Surf back in 2007) but it still rings very true, especially this week:


Responsible Trail Riding Tips During Mud Season


Help C.L.I.M.B. spread the word about responsible riding during mud
season. We know that you need to get out there and ride but use your
head and stay off the trails when muddy until the ground has thawed and
the trails have dried and hardened… or are frozen solid.

Trails change with the seasons and weather conditions. During most of
the year trails are fairly stable however winter and spring is the most
sensitive time for trails. It is these times of year when you can do the
most damage to the trail causing more work for our volunteer trail

Don’t give yourself or other mountain bikers a bad name by riding on
trails that are still too soft during this season. During winter and
early spring a period of warm weather or rain may have melted the snow,
but the sub-surface layers of soil are still partially frozen preventing
the water to drain.

The cold weather causes the ground to freeze and this frozen layer can
go down as deep as three feet. As the sun warms the top layer of soil it
melts and due to the still frozen subsoil this melted water has no
where to drain. This is a perfect recipe for mud soup. You will notice
this more predominately in the open fields where the sun is not blocked
by the trees.

If we ride or hike on the trails during this time, the damage to the
trail could be significant. If the trail is soft, our wheels or heels
may leave sunken tracks, which can become natural channels for rain to
carry the soil away leaving a mess of exposed roots and rocks.

Please stay off the trails while wet so they can recover. It is good
practice to wait a day after a rain for things to dry up a bit. This is
the time of year that the trails are most susceptible to damage, and
least capable of recovery. Any damage done now will last into the

-How to Trail Ride Responsibly During Mud Season

We know it’s hard…you want to ride… but be patient. Just because you “can” ride, doesn’t mean that you “should.”

Here are a few ideas and other riding options:

  • Check “trail” conditions at your house. A good rule of thumb is to
    ride on open ground such as a flowerbed or a lawn in your yard, if your
    tire sinks in, or is soft and squishy, the ground is not suitably thawed
    or frozen hard enough for trail activities.

  • During mud season maintain fitness by putting in some miles on the road
    or paved bike paths. If you don’t have a road bike, buy some overweight
    slick road tires for your mountain bicycle. Your patience will be
    rewarded with better trails in the future.

  • Do some urban rides. Explore the neighborhood for ramps, steps and other challenges that can hone your technical skills.

  • Ride on fire roads. You’ll be away from traffic, getting some needed
    fitness, and feel good about yourself since you’re doing the right thing
    by staying off the trails.

  • If all else fails, go to the gym and take a spinning class! You’ll be riding dirt before you know it.

Please ride in an environmentally sound manner. If you inadvertently do
cause some damage, We hope I’ll see you at our next trail work party.

For more information about CLIMB go here:

I , personally , refuse to ride in the mud and destroy my expensive bike.

Thanks for the tips tim!

Thanks but they are not my tips, but they are pretty good. With all the rain it seemed like a good time to remind riders that sometimes you should leave the trail alone. Just like people, trails need to heal.