Published: March 11, 2024

Hiking bootsWarm weather and spring storms can cause hiking trails to become waterlogged and muddy... like, really muddy. This time of year is often considered to be ‘mud season’ as conditions usually persist from late March through May. 

If you plan to hit the trails this spring, here are a few tips and recommendations to follow. 

1. Pick the right trail 

Before setting out, take time to do some research. Here are some things to consider when looking for a good spring hiking trail: 

  • Review weather conditions to plan around recent storms or potential flooding. 
  • Check trail conditions by looking at reviews on sites like AllTrails
  • Call ahead if you plan to visit a national park to ask rangers about trail closures and conditions. 
  • Look for south-facing trails, which are sunnier and typically maintain drier conditions.  
  • Pick a trail that is less challenging than one you might do in the summer. Take steepness, length, elevation gain and overall accessibility into account. 
  • Avoid higher terrain, as trails at higher elevations take longer to thaw and dry out. 
  • If you’re uncertain about trekking through muddy conditions, opt for a paved trail like those found at Garden of the Gods or Fountain Valley Trail in Roxborough State Park. 

If you need help researching trails, the Adventure Resource Center's library is a great place to start. They have guidebooks and resource books to help plan your next trip. Books range from flyfishing and river guides to the best local hiking and mountain biking trails. You can check out any of these books to take home or on your trip.

2. Bring the right gear 

Hiking around with wet feet can be uncomfortable and painful. Here are some gear options you may want to consider bringing with you on potentially muddy or wet hikes: 

  • Hiking boots: We recommend skipping your usual tennis shoes or sneakers when it comes to spring hiking. Instead, it’s usually best to opt for a waterproof hiking boot that is about six to eight inches tall. Keep in mind that even waterproof boots may not guarantee dry feet. 
  • Gaiters: For additional protection against snow, water and mud, consider using a pair of gaiters. Gaiters slide over your boots or shoes to help give you an extra layer of protection against wet conditions. They come in a variety of sizes and can be used for many activities, including hiking, mountaineering and trail running.  
  • Socks: Socks that are made from fabrics like nylon and merino wool allow your feet to breathe and wick away moisture, which can be particularly helpful in wet conditions. We also recommend bringing a spare set of socks (and shoes) that you can change into after you’ve finished your hike. This will ensure that your feet don’t remain soggy all day, even if they get wet. 
  • Plastic bags: If you don’t own a pair of waterproof boot liners, you can place a plastic bag over your feet before sliding into your boots. This provides a bit of extra protection against wet socks and feet while hiking. Plastic bags are also great to have on hand for the drive home. When finished with your hike, change into a fresh pair of socks and shoes. Then, you can place your wet, muddy boots into a plastic bag for the trip home. This will save you from getting the inside of your car dirty. 
  • Trekking poles: While trekking poles aren’t necessary, they can provide extra stability and peace of mind. They’re also great for getting out of sticky situations. For instance, if you accidentally step into a muddy bog, it can be difficult to pull your foot out, especially if you stand still for too long. If this happens, use your trekking poles to help you pull yourself out. 
  • Microspikes: If you think you may encounter ice or snow, consider packing microspikes to give you extra traction on slippery surfaces.  
  • Layers: Weather can change in an instant, especially in Colorado. Plan to wear layers for spring hikes. This will give you the flexibility to bundle up when it’s cold or snowy and dress down if it gets hot.