How to Navigate Hiking Trails

Staying on the trail isn't just about not getting lost or injured. It also prevents damage to plants and animals. Follow these simple steps to make sure you stay on course!

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How to Navigate Hiking Trails
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1
Some trails are more obvious than others. Trail markers (or blazes) are periodic signs or markings designed to keep you on the right path, and they can take a variety of forms.

Some trails are more obvious than others. Trail markers (or blazes) are periodic signs or markings designed to keep you on the right path, and they can take a variety of forms.

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Easier, highly maintained trails often keep it super direct and straightforward.

Easier, highly maintained trails often keep it super direct and straightforward.

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Many hiking areas and trail systems use simple identifiers, often color-coded, posted at periodic intervals and at trail junctions.

Many hiking areas and trail systems use simple identifiers, often color-coded, posted at periodic intervals and at trail junctions.

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There is also a basic “language” of trail markings, often seen in conjunction with these identifiers, and learning to decode them puts you one step ahead.

There is also a basic “language” of trail markings, often seen in conjunction with these identifiers, and learning to decode them puts you one step ahead.

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Let’s get off on the right foot. An upward triangular grouping indicates the start of the trail.

Let’s get off on the right foot. An upward triangular grouping indicates the start of the trail.

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A single vertical line means continue straight ahead. Two lines stacked on top of each other, with one of them offset to the right or left indicates which direction the trail is turning.

A single vertical line means continue straight ahead. Two lines stacked on top of each other, with one of them offset to the right or left indicates which direction the trail is turning.

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Two lines stacked on top of each other accompanied by a third pointing to either side indicates a fork in the trail. Stick with your original trail or switch paths? Decisions, decisions.

Two lines stacked on top of each other accompanied by a third pointing to either side indicates a fork in the trail. Stick with your original trail or switch paths? Decisions, decisions.

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A downward triangular grouping indicates the end of a trail. Congratulations, you made it!

A downward triangular grouping indicates the end of a trail. Congratulations, you made it!

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You know the motto: Pack it in, pack it out, especially your trash and any leftover food items. Remember, you did just get a workout, so do a little stretching — and you’re good to go!

You know the motto: Pack it in, pack it out, especially your trash and any leftover food items. Remember, you did just get a workout, so do a little stretching — and you’re good to go!

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