Forest Service Warns Not To Destroy Trails By Going Around Mud & Snow

The U.S. Forest Service has warned of the dangers that can be caused by driving around mud and snow while out in snowy or wet areas after a late spring snowstorm hit the state on Friday.

Ellen Fike

May 20, 20223 min read

Snow drifts

In the wake of a late spring snowstorm that hit the state on Friday, the U.S. Forest Service issued a warning of the dangers that can be caused by driving around mud and snow while out in snowy or wet areas.

The U.S. Forest Service in particular called on people planning to visit Bighorn National Forest over the weekend to be sure they stay on roads and trails, since going around snow drifts or mud puddles can cause damage to the route and surrounding vegetation.

“Walking or driving around a snow drift or mud puddle can cause the route to widen,” National Forest spokeswoman Sara Kirol told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “It damages vegetation, can cause soil displacement and widen the puddle or create one. The best choice is to travel single file through the mud puddle or snow drift to protect the integrity of the soil and plant life along the edge.”

Wet trails are more fragile and every tire track or footprint left in the mud can cause more and more erosion, Kirol said.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said by hiking or biking around the trail, real damage is being done and is ultimately “selfish behavior.”

“Yes, if you are getting chased by a grizzly and you can make faster time by going around a snowy or mud-packed trail to avoid getting eaten, then by all means do it,” Ulrich said.

“If worse comes to worse, trip your friend in the mud puddle and then get out of there,” he continued. “That way you aren’t hurting the trail and you survive. As for your friend, vaya con dios. No harm, no foul.

“But that’s the only exception to the rule. Otherwise, be considerate and either save your excursion for a better day or go through it,” he said.

If a person on the trail cannot how deep a puddle is or how deep a snow drift is, he or she should likely wait until another time to finish the journey, the Forest Service said.

Wyoming Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jordan Achs agreed, particularly about the snow drifts, since she said it is a common occurrence for people to get stuck in them during the snowy season.

“If they get stuck in a drift, it can delay road reopening times because we’re having to get the person unstuck,” Achs said. “Then we have to stick by them for a bit, because sometimes, a car stuck in a drift can make one of its own.”

Even if a drift does not look deep, Achs noted it is surprising how quickly someone can come to be stuck in one.

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Ellen Fike