POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - People are flocking to the trails as East Idaho enjoys a taste of spring weather, but adventuring into mud can cause more problems than dirty shoes.
During mud season, and even after storms during the summer, low spots on trails gather water and create mud puddles.
“If you go through that mud puddle, you tend to make that mud puddle deeper. And then the next person makes it deeper, and it just builds on itself,” said Lance Clark, outdoor supervisor for the City of Pocatello.
Even skirting around mud puddles tends to make the area even wider, Clark said.
“The only real solution to mud is to avoid it,” Clark said.
Clark suggests if adventurers run into mud on a trail, they turn around and try again later.
“If it’s sticking to your shoes, if it’s sticking to your bike, if you find yourself stepping off the trail to avoid it, that’s a good time to turn around and come back because you’re causing some degree of damage,” Clark said.
The most noted culprits of mud damage on trails comes from people trail-riding their horses and mountain biking.
“There’s a saying in the trail community, ‘The horses create the holes and the mountain bikers link them together,’” Clark said.
But Clark notes it’s not just horses and bikes that create the problems. Leaving behind a foot or paw print in the mud creates a hardened and rough trail in the summer.
“It will definitely leave some potholes behind, and those can take months to fade,” Clark said.
Long-term damage to the trails is just part of the impacts of using muddy trails. Pocatello’s City Creek Trail system in particular is a protected watershed area the City is legally obligated to protect.
“So, it’s pretty important to us to keep the erosion to a minimum and keep the problems away from the stream,” Clark said.
But Clark isn’t a stick in the mud.
“Now this isn’t to say you cannot use the trails at all right now. You can choose trails that are dryer. The east bench tends to be much, much dryer (this time of year),” Clark said.
In Pocatello, trails on the east side of town get more sun and dry up earlier in the spring. Clark also suggests setting an early alarm and enjoying the trails in the morning while the ground is still frozen.