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Land & Environmental
This stretch of trail has tripled in width due to hikers on muddy days. (Photo courtesy of Glen Helen)

Glen Helen trails will be closed on Sunday, March 1, to allow the ground to thaw and avoid widening the trails. This stretch of trail has tripled in width due to hikers on muddy days. (Photo courtesy of Glen Helen)

Seasonal trail closures begin Sunday in Glen Helen

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On Sunday, March 1, the Glen Helen trail system will close to protect the nature preserve during the freeze/thaw cycle. Depending on the weather, the trails may reopen as soon as the next day, Monday, March 2.

The closure marks the beginning of a period of seasonal trail closures when, depending on the weather, Glen Helen may need to close and reopen its trails on relatively short notice. The closures are mainly based on the fragility of the Glen as it begins to thaw after cold days.

According to a press release from the Glen, as the late winter season fluctuates between freezing and thawing, the trails are often only half thawed, with a wet, melted layer on top of a harder, frozen layer. The soft, top layer is easily and quickly turned to mud by hikers, who often end up widening the trails to avoid the mud; in the past, trails have been widened by as much as four feet during the course of a single day. Widening the trails threatens the plant life at the edges of the trails, among other things. 

Even hikers who are undaunted by tramping through the mud without widening the trail are asked to stay off the trails, as closures are designed to give nature a chance to recover after the cold days of winter, and to allow the trails to thaw completely.

Glen Helen land stewardship staff will decide when it’s safe to reopen the trails when they are closed. Depending on how quickly the weather warms up, closures may only last a day or two. To check on the status of the trails, visit glenhelen.org, or visit the Glen Helen page on Facebook for regular updates.

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