Trail signs

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Trail signs are used to communicate when hiking group has become split up or if a second group is following the same route.

Trail signs are needed when:

  • There is a fork in a trail
  • The trail is unclear or the route is ambiguous
  • The path crosses water or rocky surfaces


    Signs may be clear for everyone to see or may be hidden so that only the informed will see them.

    Stones can be placed one-on-another to show the way, two stones could be a coincidence - but three stones is unlikely to be natural.

    The advantages of stone-on-stone trail signs:

    • They are less obvious than an arrow (either made of stones or with sticks),
    • They are made with natural materials - so we are not littering.

    Some disadvantages of using stones:

    • They can be easily scattered and the trail sign is lost.
    • They could be too discrete - and too easily missed by the people following you.

    Turn here

    Gone Home

    The circle and the dot ⊙ indicates the end of the trail.
    It can be found on the BP's grave.

    Carry on

    Sometimes a trail sign is left to confirm you are still on the right track.
    A stick through a leaf is inconspicuous and unlikely to have happened naturally, (the same with a small stick of leaves from another tree).

    Obstacles ahead

    This lets the following group know that they need to pass over some obstacle like a rocky outcrop or a lagoon. While crossing this obstacle it will obviously be unpractical to lay down trail signs.

    Written note

    Sometimes a note is hidden or left for the following group.

    Don't go here

    This sign may be made from small stones or crossed sticks or scratched in the soil.
    The aim is to prevent the following group from going along the wrong path if they have missed a turn in the trail.

    Group split

    A trail sign to show that the patrol has chosen to follow different routes.

    Patrol name

    This is not used in the modern scouting as it could be interpreted as graffitti in a natural area as it goes against the ethos of 'leave no trace'.

    Other notes