The holiday weekend is traditionally the start of the hiking season in Vermont. Hiking is one of the state's top summer tourism draws and the Green Mountain Club (GMC) estimates 200,000 people visit The Long Trail each year. The official Long Trail stewards, the 106-year-old Green Mountain Club is the premier Vermont hiking organization with numerous hiking guides and maps available to Vermonters and visitors alike.
From its rocky summits to gentle valleys, Vermont is home to hundreds of miles of hiking opportunities. This is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy a favorite hike or explore some place new.
The GMC offers a few tips for early season hikers:
• Plan ahead and let someone know where you will be hiking.
• Bring a warm extra layer as mountain tops are chilly year-round and Vermont's weather can quickly change.
• Stay hydrated and bring food for long hikes.
• Bring raingear; even an emergency poncho or garbage bag will help in a pinch.
• Carry out what you carry in and help protect Vermont's special places.
"Our volunteers have been working diligently to clear the trails of winter debris, coinciding nicely with our spring weather melting away the snow and lingering ice from both winter and our extended cold weather of April and May," said GMC Director of Trail Programs Dave Hardy.
"More daylight and a wide palette of spring greens help make hiking irresistible. Be prepared for blackflies, more sun thanks to less leaves on the trees, and the occasional thundershower," advises Hardy. "Younger hikers may be able to pick up where they left off last fall, but I suggest starting slowly to condition yourself for longer hikes later."
Start fast or start slow, but please do start hiking.
This season GMC will employ about forty seasonal employees serving as caretakers at high-use sites and fragile alpine summits, a professional trail crew, and a construction crew who will work to improve or rebuild shelters and other trail infrastructure.
To help plan and guide your next hike pick up a GMC waterproof map, the Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont or the classic Long Trail Guide, all available at greenmountainclub.org and in the club's visitor center in Waterbury Center.
Established in 1910 to build the Long Trail, the Green Mountain Club is a private, nonprofit organization with over 9,000 members. The GMC is dedicated to maintaining, managing, and protecting Vermont's historic Long Trail System, Vermont Appalachian Trail and advocating for hiking opportunities in Vermont. Every year more than 800 volunteers work so that future generations may enjoy the 500-mile Long Trail System. Contact the Green Mountain Club to learn more about the GMC or to become a member.