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Prepare for late spring hiking conditions before hitting the trail

At the end of May, many Washington trails still have winter conditions, including snow, storm damage and downed trees.

SEATTLE — Although spring is in full force in the Puget Sound region, outdoor advocates warn it’s still winter in the mountains, which means there are a few things to consider before you hit the trail.

Trails could be snowy or muddy, and there may be storm damage from winter. Downed trees may not have been cleared yet, and trail crews are just starting to get out, according to Kindra Ramos, Washington Trails Association (WTA) director of communications and outreach.

“It can be a bit of a shock when you drive to a trailhead and encounter snow,” said Ramos.

There may even be more snow in spots as this year’s snowpack was deeper than normal and was among the highest recorded in the last 40 years.

RELATED: More people are taking to Washington's trails after a year stuck inside

Many popular trails in Washington won’t be melted out until July, according to Ramos, so make sure you’re prepared and are willing to turn around if you experience unexpected conditions.

“The trail will be there another day, and you want to make sure you can enjoy your experience,” said Ramos.

Outdoor advocates say proper planning starts before you even leave the house. Ramos encouraged hikers to research hike options and come up with a plan B and C if their first choice doesn’t work out. Leave your itinerary and expected return time with someone.

Be sure to pack the 10 essentials, including sun protection, warm clothing, food and navigational tools.

When you get back, Ramos encouraged hikers to leave a trip report on WTA’s website to let other hikers know what conditions are like and alert land managers to any issues that need to be addressed.

“Having your fellow hikers scout a trail so you know what to expect is really important,” said Ramos.

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