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Trailhack#110: Reading the Hiking Blaze Markers … Straight, Left, Right, and Start/Stop

Ever wonder what the markings on the trees when out hiking is for? These markings are for directional purposes and are called ‘Blaze Markers’ to denote direction and trail traffic. They are easily read, and this is a quick overview of the marking.

The color will be based on the trail and system classification, although the Appalachian Trail is blaze ‘White.’ Other trails across the country are marked in various colors throughout the whole system.

  • Ribbons or flags wrapped around trees are typically similar to painted markers

  • Signs on trees are more sophisticated ways of marking the trail

  • Carvings on trees are less sophisticated

For the painted markings on the trees, directions are as follows:


The start and end will be denoted by three markers (about 2” x 6” in size).

When you see one marker, you are following the right path (as long as the color matches the previous ones). Sometimes when you’re unsure of the trail, look around for the blaze marker. Typically, this is an issue when crossing streams and creeks.


And right or left turn is denoted by the elevated marker. Go in the direction of the elevated marking.


We hope that this is helpful, just a quick tip on reading Blaze coloring on the trails. Happy hiking!

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