March and April usually bring out the muddy trails at Hamilton's popular park trails. The up-and-down temperatures of this winter have hastened the soft, slippery (and sometimes deep) mud bogs at various places.

Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf said the Hamilton Public Works Department has dumped gravel on a large muddy area at Hamilton's newest public park, Skalkaho Bend. The park at the south end of Hamilton has a fairly steep entrance from the parking lot. and at the bottom of the hill, the top layer of soil melted over the lower frozen layer, creating a sticky mess.

Gravel to mud at Skalkaho Bend. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
Gravel to mud at Skalkaho Bend. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

The park was added to the trail system last year and the routes have not been firmly established, leading to the unusually "sticky situation." Including the Vester Wilson baseball field, Hamilton has 10 parks. Many of them, along the Bitterroot River, have been maintained to provide a more natural environment for hiking and biking. Many have been packed down over the years and there's not a real mud problem. But some extra care is needed at Skalkaho Bend. Farrenkopf suggested people avoid that area for a short time to prevent further damage. Of course, that will also limit the amount of mud you bring back to your car and home after your hike.

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As an alternative, a good trail with less mud problems is the main trail at Hieronymus Park at the north end of Hamilton, next to the Veterans Memorial and the Bitterroot River Inn. (And after your hike, the Dairy Queen is right there, too.)

The parks department is also looking at providing better access to the riverside parks, including the Steve Powell Park entrance at the western end of Adirondac Avenue. If you see something in a park that needs some attention, let the Hamilton Parks Department know at 406 363-6717.

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