[Hiking] 3 Common Trail Signs and Their Meanings

Have you ever been hiking and noticed interesting formations out of rocks, sticks and leaves? They aren’t random, nor the mark of the elusive Bigfoot (although they could be if you hike near the Blue Mountains.) They are actually trail signs left by other hikers and park rangers that are meant to alert you of interesting sights on the trail, danger areas or directions. Here is an overview of 3 main ones and their meanings.

[Hiking] 3 Common Trail Signs and Their Meanings

Trail Markers:

These markers alert hikers of the direction of the trail. These are more beneficial for less developed paths, since they are usually very primitive markers made out of sticks and pebbles that point in the direction of the trail. After several hikers use these markers, the trail usually becomes obvious and the signs are kicked away and lost.



More advanced trail markers than sticks and pebbles, cairns are stacked rocks, ranging in size that are used to mark mountain biking and hiking trails. They are modernly used to show that people have been to a natural location, enjoyed it and want to share it with others. Rock cairns aren’t new through; they’ve been used by humans throughout prehistory to signify all kinds of things from landmarks to meeting locations to trails used for spiritual pilgrimages.

Road Blocks:

Usually created by a straight line of rocks across a trail, road blocks are safety warnings for hikers not to go a certain direction. This could be for a variety of reasons, but likely the trail’s been washed out, there’s a sharp drop or a dangerous animal in the area.


Have you ever seen these trail signs?

Photo Credit: Trail signs image: K Ramasamy’s Blog for KVS Scouts, Zion National Park/Caitlin CeciFrédéric Minne

PrintBy Elizabeth Adan

Elizabeth Adan is a Freelance Writer, Publicist and Brand Ambassador. Her blog Aquaberry Bliss is a unique outdoor lifestyle blog dedicated to expanding your world and inspiring your creativity. When Elizabeth isn’t traveling, you’ll find her writing, hiking or gardening. Find Elizabeth on Twitter @stillaporcupine and on LinkedIn.


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