The Vermont State Police disseminate press releases for significant criminal or public safety incidents and arrests, but it is not intended to document every public contact or response to a call-for-service. If you have a question regarding an incident or case, please contact your local state police barracks or the public information officer. Please note press releases are available on this blog for 6 months following their public release. Please contact the public information officer if you need access to one that is older.

Search This Blog

May 5, 2017

Hiker Safety








Waterbury VT / May 5, 2017 - As the weather improves this spring, the Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety would like to remind those heading out onto Vermont's hiking trails of the ever changing conditions a hiker may encounter this time of year, especially at higher elevations.  As you follow trails into the mountains you can find yourself hiking in snow and ice again despite warm weather and green grass at the trailhead. Spring showers at lower elevations can turn into an all-too-familiar wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain in the hills. The long-lasting snowpack at higher elevation keeps the air temperatures cool, soaks your boots, and can make the trails difficult to follow.


If hiking at higher elevations, it's important that spring hikers continue to be prepared for winter conditions. Waterproof boots (not sneakers) with traction devices, extra layers of warm clothes, a headlamp, map and compass may become necessary for a safe and successful hike. Consider turning around when you hit icy or snow covered trails if you are not properly equipped or if travel and route finding becomes more difficult.


Neil Van Dyke, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety reports that there were several search and rescue incidents last spring involving hikers who were not properly prepared for the conditions they found at higher elevations. 


A rescue last Friday (April 26) on Mt. Mansfield highlighted these concerns when two hikers called 911 when they were unable to follow the Long Trail due to deep snow conditions and found themselves in unfamiliar terrain. They were also ill-equipped for the conditions wearing only summer hiking attire, becoming very cold and wet as darkness approached.  Fortunately rescuers from Stowe Mountain Rescue and the Dept. of Public Safety were able to determine their location and guide them to the top of the ski area at Stowe Mountain Resort, where they were picked up at about 9:00pm and transported down the mountain and back to their car in Underhill.


These situations can be avoided by having appropriate winter hiking gear, or simply turning around when snowy, icy conditions are encountered.


Officials from the Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety encourage you to stay safe while enjoying the beginning of hiking season, by being careful as you climb higher into the mountains where spring may not yet have arrived.  Hikers are also reminded that trails on state land above 2500' in elevation remain closed until Memorial Day.


For more information please contact:

Neil VanDyke - Department of Public Safety Search & Rescue Coordinator





Scott Waterman

Vermont State Police Public Information Officer

802-241-5277 desk

802-279-4554 cell