Understanding Hiking Trail Markers

Author's Note

I love the outdoors, but I guess I love hot water and my own bed more, so I've never ventured far enough into the wilderness that I needed to know how to read trail markings. It was pretty reassuring to learn how intuitive they were, just in case I ever take a wrong turn and find myself navigating the road less traveled! I also found it interesting that there's far more information online about scientific, artistic, and historical trail blazing than I found about the literal, scratching-marks-into-trees kind. Definitely an interesting topic -- and one I'd love to learn more about.

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More Great Links


  • Harlin, John. "Finding Blazed Trail Markers." Backpacker Magazine. (May 19, 2012) http://www.backpacker.com/december_2000_skills_trail_blazing/gear/1868
  • Holland, Kristy. "Rip & Live: Lost." Backpacker Magazine. (May 19, 2012) http://www.backpacker.com/november_2011_survival_lost_hikers_/survival/16288
  • Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. "The Leave No Trace Seven Principles." (May 20, 2012) http://donate.lnt.org/learn/7-principles
  • Martin, Gary. "Blaze a Trail." The Phrase Finder. (May 19, 2012) http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/66700.html
  • National Park Service. "The National Trails System Memorandum of Understanding." June 17, 2009. (May 20, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/nts/memorandum2006.html
  • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "Guidelines for Marking Recreational Trails." July 2008. (May 23, 2012) http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ucmprd1/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_007076.pdf
  • Seton, Ernest Thompson. "Trail Signs & Blazes." BSA Troop 113. (May 19, 2012) http://troop113.com/t113skillsclasses.html
  • Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. "Pathways to Trail Building." Recreation Educational Services Division Greenways and Trails Program. March 2007. (May 23, 2012) http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/TNpathways.pdf