Warmer weather muddies weekend trail activities: What to know before going out

Glen Helen trails be closed at least through the weekend to prevent the widening of trails due to people going off trail to avoid mud. GLEN HELEN PHOTO

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Glen Helen trails be closed at least through the weekend to prevent the widening of trails due to people going off trail to avoid mud. GLEN HELEN PHOTO

Glen Helen trails, others closed due to mud-covered paths, environmental concerns

Warmer weather may draw people outdoors this weekend, but those wanting to hike, mountain bike or ride horses may find their favorite trails closed due to muddy conditions and a concern for the environment.

Glen Helen in Yellow Springs closed Friday as some narrow trails have been widened by as much as four feet due to people trying to avoid mud, said Nick Boutis, executive director of the Glen Helen Association.

“That’s how you gradually go from a trail that’s kind of one-person-wide to one you could drive a truck down,” he said.

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Five Rivers MetroParks’ Mountain Bike Area, also known as MoMBA, and the equestrian trails at Carriage Hill and Possum Creek MetroParks are also currently closed due to similar conditions, according to the park system.

Boutis said it’s not every year that frozen ground, rising temperatures and a melting snowpack create conditions that stymie hikers and stress the environment.

“The weather stars have aligned in a way that just makes it not good for the health of the preserve for us to have open access this weekend,” he said.

Dayton temperatures are predicted reach the mid-50s on Saturday and top 60 degrees Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The warmup comes after the region was covered with at least one inch of snow for more than three weeks, the longest stretch since 1985.

Glen Helen closed at the start of the pandemic but since reopening as seen an unprecedented number of visitors, Boutis said. A nice weekend can bring out more than 1,000 hikers to the preserve’s nearly 15 miles of trails.

“People innocently and well-meaningly will step outside of the mud in the center of the of the path,” he said. “Over the course of a few hundred thousand footsteps over a weekend it has an outsized impact on the on the trail system of our preserve.”

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The impact comes at the expense OF dormant plants, Boutis said.

“It’s the habitats for native wildflowers and seeds that will be coming up over the next months,” he said. “If enough people step there, it’ll destroy those.”

Boutis said there are plenty of other opportunities for people to stretch their legs this weekend on the region’s paved multi-use trails or other area parks like the Cedar Bog State Nature Preserve and Siebenthaler Fen, which have boardwalks.

The Raptor Center at Glen Helen will remain open during normal winter hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Glen Helen land stewardship staff will determine when trails can reopen and make that announcement at www.glenhelen.org and on Glen Helen’s Facebook page.

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