Every spring, as the winter snows melt, our soils become saturated with water. When the ground thaws in the afternoon, this means MUD. You might think that since a trail is mostly dry, it's fine to ride, but because we have pretty hard, somewhat clayey soils, the ruts left from bike tires and footprints can last all year long, or longer.
A good portion of the trail work in Missoula is performed by volunteers. The City and Forest Service crews just don't have time to step away from their other responsibilities to go clean up after trail users leaving ruts. This means that volunteers will likely be using their free time to fix the damage.
It's such a small window for each trail when conditions are like this. At the time of this writing, MoZ just needs a few more warm days to be ready to go, but users riding now will leave ruts that will last and last. If we just give each trail time to dry out, the damage can be averted.
Keep in mind that when the soils are saturated, a little bit of rain will make them much muddier than an equal amount of rain in the summer time. Once the trails are fully dry, they hold up very well to additional rain. But in this sensitive time as each one melts out, the potential for damage is high.
Thanks for doing your part to keep the trails good for everyone. Don't put yourself in #trailjail.