JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo — It’s mud season in Colorado, and if you’re a hiker, mountain biker or runner, you know this is not the ideal time to hit the trails.

This having nothing to do with getting your shoes dirty, and everything to do with the fact that excessive trail use in muddy conditions erodes the state’s natural resources. That’s why many local parks have been forced to close some particularly muddy trails while they dry out.

RELATED: Today's snow is tomorrow's mud trail

In Jefferson County, those closures extend to super popular areas like Mt. Falcon, Deer Creek Canyon, the North Table Mountain Loop and parts of White Ranch Park.

“Someone left us a really nasty note about the trail closures and that they were frustrated, and they think it’s an act of laziness,” said Jefferson County Park Ranger Mary Ann Bonnell. “We are not closing our parks because we don’t want to have them open. We’re closing our parks to protect the trails that people love.

“It’s actually harder for us to close a park than for us to leave it open.”

You can read the angry note below. It will not restore your faith in humanity.

So far this spring, Bonnell said rangers have handed out 19 tickets to trail users who have ignored the various, very obvious trail closures in some Jefferson County Open Spaces. Those tickets are worth up to $150.

Bonnell said it’s easy to know when someone is trespassing past a mud closure, because their car is either the only one in the parking lot, or sitting on the side of the road. Rangers will typically just wait for the trail user to return and write them a ticket. Or, they can follow their tracks, since they’re hiking through the mud.

“Neighbors will also call and report people climbing over a fence to get into a park,” Bonnell said. “So if you don’t think you’re going to get caught, think again.”

Last Sunday, Bonnell caught a photo of a single set of tracks walking past a closure at Mt. Falcon Park in Morrison. It's very obvious how one person decided the rules didn't apply to them. 

Gated hiker
Mary Ann Bonnell

This spring has had more mud closures than recent years, Bonnell said, but it’s because there’s been so much snow this winter. She couldn’t say when the closed trails will open, since it depends on when conditions get dry enough.

One area she says isn’t closed but also recommends people avoid this weekend is Matthews/Winters Park near Morrison.

“It’s a mess,” Bonnell said. “It’s very difficult for us to manage a closure. If people can avoid that area, that would be good.”

You can find information about closed trails in Jefferson County here: https://www.jeffco.us/1531/Alerts-Closures

With that being said, mud is inevitable, and since you live in Colorado, you probably wouldn’t sacrifice your time outside for dirty shoes ... just do it responsibly. 

Here’s a guide to handling mud season in Colorado.

Go through the mud, not around it.

  • Whether on foot, bike, horse, or whatever you choose to use to explore outside; when you see mud go straight through it.
  • Going around mud damages vegetation widens the trail, and leads to erosion.

Bring appropriate footwear.

  • When playing in the mud your shoes will get muddy. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Many trailheads have boot cleaning facilities to get that muck off your shoes.
  • Bring a bag to throw your muddy shoes in and keep your car clean.

Check trail conditions and closures before heading out. Here are some resources for your area.

Jefferson County, City of Boulder, Boulder County, Fort Collins, Larimer County, Trail Forks 

You can also pop into your favorite local bike shop out outfitter. They know their stuff and love to talk trails!

Enjoy the snow!

  • Go higher up and enjoy the snow in the mountains while the Front Range thaws.
  • Try alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, fat-tire-biking, etc.

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