By Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan Custer Gallatin National Forest

BOZEMAN – With warmer weather, the spring thaw is well underway. The Custer Gallatin National Forest reminds recreationists to tread lightly and respect the conditions of roads and trails during the spring break-up period.

Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at all district offices providing opening and closing dates for area roads and gates. Seasonal designations do not change from year to year, however this season’s lack of snow has curtailed snowmobiling opportunities in many areas – including grooming by Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association on Wapiti Trail #2522 and Buck Ridge.

“We appreciate the excellent grooming that Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association has provided through the 2015 winter season,” said Bozeman Trails Manager Brian McNeil. “With winter conditions waning, spring break-up can often times cause the most damage to trails, with wet saturated soils, loose rocks and debris common across many area trails.”

Seasonal trail crews will come on in early June and will be maintaining trails after they have dried out, McNeil said, encouraging recreationists to tread lightly, using trails that are drier and help limit extreme rutting or erosion.

Between April 1 and June 15, many trails across the Bozeman and Hebgen Lake Ranger Districts will also experience a seasonal change. Buffalo Horn Trail #1, Porcupine Creek Trail #34, and Teepee Creek Trail #39, all in the Gallatin Canyon south of Big Sky; along with Swan Creek Trail #186 and Bear Canyon Trail #440 – that both reopen July 15 – are closed to pack and saddle livestock and mountain bikes during the seasonal timeframes. Many other roads and trails on the forest may also be wet and muddy this time of year, so use caution and common sense when planning your trip.

For those hitting the trails for the first time this spring, remember a few extra items including food, water, survival gear, extra layers and bear spray. Have bear spray readily accessible outside your pack and know how to use it.

For information about road and trail conditions, contact the Bozeman Ranger District at 3710 Fallon Street or by phone at (406) 522-2520 or the Hebgen Lake Ranger District at (406) 823-6961.

Visit fs.usda.gov for more information on the Custer Gallatin National Forest.