With the warmer weather comes a lot of excitement to spend time outside again. However, spring trail conditions can be unpredictable, so it's important to ensure you follow proper trail etiquette. Before adventuring, check out these Leave No Trace guidelines to be a more responsible steward of our outdoor spaces this spring.
Get Muddy (Or Don’t!)
Spring in the U.P. means a lot of snowmelt and rain, which equates to very muddy trails. During this time it’s best to walk through small puddles instead of around them to prevent trail widening. When people start walking around puddles on trails, it creates an unintentional widening of the trail that damages vegetation. Wear your boots and prepare to get a little muddy! If trails are extremely wet, it’s best to save your ride or hike for another day or find a paved path to go on instead. Overuse on very muddy trails can create deep ruts that can be difficult for those who maintain the trail to smooth out and repair.
Spring is a sensitive time for many animals due to mating and nesting. Remember always to keep your distance. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animal’s parents to abandon them. If you have the urge for a closer look, bring a pair of binoculars on your next outing. You should notify the land manager if you find sick animals or animals in trouble.
Photo courtesy of UPLC
Pitch in and Pack Out
Snowmelt brings a lot of trash to the surface that gets buried throughout winter. Consider going the extra step and packing a garbage bag on your next outing. A little act of kindness goes a long way and keeps our favorite natural areas clean and healthy for all to enjoy. If you want to take your good work to the next level, join a group clean-up event or host your own this spring!
Stop Invasive Hitchhikers
The flowers are blooming and so are invasive species. Help stop the spread of invasive species by wiping off your boots and bike tires, as well as cleaning, draining, and drying your watercraft before and after every outing. Going for a spring camping trip? Remember to get your firewood from within 30 miles of where you plan to burn it. Contact Lake to Lake Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area for more information on invasive species management in Marquette and surrounding counties.
Expect the Unexpected
Take extra steps to plan ahead and prepare for your adventures in the spring due to unpredictable weather changes. Spring weather in the U.P. can mean sunny and 65 or a snowstorm. Double-check forecasts and pack some “just in case” items such as a raincoat or hat and gloves. Additionally, if you’ve been hibernating all winter, start off slow to avoid injuries, and research your route before heading out.