Do you know what these Trail marks means ?

Updated: Jul 23

We often go hiking on trails that are unknown for us that's why we believe it is a form of exploration and finding ways to get through it. It is also very obvious to find intersections along with the ways while hiking. But if you are new, there is a better chance that will get confused at that point and you may also lose your way. Deciding the right path to get through it and reach the destination or a suitable place where you can camp before the sunset without wasting any time is important.

We have Map and GPS navigation so why we need to read the signs / Marks?

A map can tell you a rough idea but still, the small narrow paths along the main path are not very precisely mentioned in maps also not very specific in GPS guide as well. So to avoid any trouble many of hikers who passed those pathways often left some kind of mark or signs on either side in different ways.

Why hikers leave Marks who pass those pathways?

Because nothing is more joyful than showing the right path and helping someone. It also one of the kindest deed to do. Leaving a mark is just a small thing but It would save somebody's time and life also even in some cases. That's why hikers often left some understandable signs to safeguard coming backpackers from misguiding. They used different ways to show the message let us know what are those trail marks that new hikers must understand on the go.

How to find Trail marks?

Trail marks are often marked on Tree Trunks, big stones on either side of the path or it may a simply a painted post or board pinned to a tree. When you find difficulty in finding the way just look around for some trail marks. You will see either of these signs and try to understand it if it helps you make it more catchy for the future wanderers.

Let's see some of the most used Trail Marks

Stone stack: Hiker often leaves a stack of rocks to show the right path at interjunctions. This a good to convey the message when you have no other marking options like paint etc.


You will find pebbles that are arranged in a form of direction sign, an arrow-like form pointing to a particular direction. Which will be pretty much easy to understand. Check the image below which represent the direction.

Paint: Trail marks are also done with colour paint. You can find it on big rocks, tree trunk simply mentioning some message or direction sign on it. It is most reliable and easy to understand as compared to another form of trail marks.

Itching or Scratches: Another type of trail mark is scratches that will be usually found on trees, hikers mark this with something sharp thing (knife or sharp stone). Marks can be a direction arrow, or a cross or simply written something about the path. Just to help you get through it.


This is the most common and effective way It is usually found in nearby trails or in national parks. but it is not found in the least travelled trails or new trails.

Flags: It may be a flag or a ribbon tied to a tree which means you are on the right track. You can find the same thing after every distance the colour of the flag/ribbon may be or may not be the same. Because they will tie whatever they got on the path and follow a pattern.


While hiking through trails for the first time it can be tricky to find the right path especially in mountain and rocky trails where the chances of finding path and footmarks are difficult. To avoid hikers from such kind of confusion many experienced backpackers decide to leave some kind of trail marks. It can be in any form mostly they use stone stacks, stick or pebbles arranged in certain signs, which you will easily understand after reading this article.

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