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Encyclopedia > Trail blazing
Typical painted blaze in Mt. Greylock State Reservation, Massachusetts.
Typical painted blaze in Mt. Greylock State Reservation, Massachusetts.

Trail blazing means marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with blazes, markings that follow each other at a certain, though not necessarily exactly defined distance and mark the direction of the trail. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (581x775, 200 KB)Photographed 2005-06-21 on the Overlook Trail by Daniel Case Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (581x775, 200 KB)Photographed 2005-06-21 on the Overlook Trail by Daniel Case Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... Mount Greylock is a mountain of 3,491 feet (1,064 m) in northwestern Massachusetts, on the Appalachian Trail just south of Vermont and not too far east of New York. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  Ranked 44th  - Total 10,555 sq mi (27,360 km²)  - Width 183 miles (295 km)  - Length 113 miles (182 km)  - % water 13. ... Recreation is the emploment of time in a non-profitable way, in many ways also a therapeutic refreshment of ones body or mind. ...


In older times, a blazed tree could be a simple hatchet chop, or several of them, such as "Three Chopped Road" in Richmond, Virginia which once was a footpath through a forest. Nickname: River City Motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra (Thus do we reach the stars) Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia Coordinates: Country United States State Virginia County Independent City Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (D) Area    - City 62. ... Depending on the context, footpath may refer to Sidewalk, a paved walkway Trail, usually an unpaved path through wild areas This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Eucalyptus Forest at Swifts Creek in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. ...


To be effective, blazes must be immediately recognizable and easy to see all year round, as well as able to withstand rain, wind and snow. In recent years environmental concerns have begun to play a part in the choice of method, with visual impact considered as well. Rain falling For other uses see Rain (disambiguation). ... Wind is the roughly horizontal movement of air (as opposed to an air current) caused by uneven heating of the Earths surface. ... Animation of snowcover changing with the seasons. ... Environmentalism is the advocation of preservation, restoration, and/or improvement of the natural environment, such as the control of air pollution. ...


Figuratively, Trail Blazing can mean avant gard or inventive work in arts or sciences, evoking the literal mening of going into new territory which has no marked paths.

Contents

Types of blazes

There are many ways of blazing trails. All have advantages and disadvantages.


Paint blazes

Triangular blaze indicating a left turn, in Harriman State Park.
Triangular blaze indicating a left turn, in Harriman State Park.

In modern times, most commonly, a painted marking of a consistent shape or shapes (usually, but not always, rectangular), dimension and color or combination of colors is used along the trail route. Commonly, in North America, to avoid confusion, it is one single color, often white or one of the primary colors — red, blue or yellow, as green tends to predominate in woodland environments where most trails requiring blazing are found. Orange can also be used, but on the whole it is good to avoid earth tones as they are not as easily distinguished from their surroundings. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1544x1484, 1090 KB)Triangular Blaze indicating a left turn. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1544x1484, 1090 KB)Triangular Blaze indicating a left turn. ... There is also a Harriman State Park in Idaho. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... In geometry, a rectangle is defined as a quadrilateral polygon in which all four angles are right angles. ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... A primary color or colour is a color that cannot be created by mixing other colors in the gamut of a given color space. ... Earth tone is a color scheme that draws from a color palette of browns, tans, greys and some reds. ...


Ideally, blazes are placed at a height of around six feet (180 cm) above ground level so that they may be near eye level yet remain above snow level in wintertime.


The system by which blazes are used to signify turns and endpoints in trails (see below) also strongly favors the use of paint blazes.

A "rectangular" blaze: blazes frequently are only approximately the right shape. (Harriman State Park)
A "rectangular" blaze: blazes frequently are only approximately the right shape. (Harriman State Park)

There are some places, however, such as Harriman State Park in New York where the many trails built over the years have necessitated a scheme that includes multicolored rectangles, rectangles with differently-colored dots in the middle, letters in the rectangle and similar permutations. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1378x1360, 723 KB)A Blaze on the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail in Harriman State Park. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1378x1360, 723 KB)A Blaze on the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail in Harriman State Park. ... There is also a Harriman State Park in Idaho. ... There is also a Harriman State Park in Idaho. ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  Ranked 27th  - Total 54,520 sq mi (141,205 km²)  - Width 285 miles (455 km)  - Length 330 miles (530 km)  - % water 13. ...


In some European countries this is, in fact, standard procedure. Austrian trails use the national flag, and in Slovenia, the blazes are in the form of a white point inside a red circle (Special winter blazes must also be set. These are steel poles 4 - 5 m high on top of which there are red arrows oriented in the appropriate direction.). Blazes used to mark European walking routes are yellow points encircled with a red ring. World map showing Europe Political map (neighbouring countries in Asia and Africa also shown) Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. ... Civil Flag Ratio: 2:3 State Flag Ratio: 2:3 The flag of Austria has three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and red. ... In Euclidean geometry, a circle is the set of all points in a plane at a fixed distance, called the radius, from a fixed point, the centre. ... Below is a list of European long-distance paths: E1 - Norway - Sweden - Denmark - Germany - Switzerland - Italy E2 - Scotland - England - Netherlands - Belgium - Luxembourg - France E3 - Spain - France - Belgium - Luxembourg - Germany - Czech Republic - Poland - Slovakia - Hungary - Romania - Bulgaria E4 - Spain - France - Switzerland - Germany - Austria - Hungary - Bulgaria - Greece E5 - France - Switzerland - Germany - Austria...

A blaze on a tree in Slovenia
A blaze on a tree in Slovenia

When using paint on trees, the preferred technique is to use a drawknife to smooth the outer bark of trees without penetrating to the inner bark (so as to not injure the tree), then using an oil-based paint to create the blaze. Stencils are often useful, and sash brushes are the preferred brush type for precise work. Oil-based paint seems to last longer than latex-based and seems to be more benign to the bark. Blazes may also be painted on obvious rock surfaces or on posts set into the ground (or on utility poles, fences, or other handy surfaces) where the trail follows a road or goes through fields and meadows. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (768x1024, 277 KB)Trail blaze used in Slovenia, from http://sl. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (768x1024, 277 KB)Trail blaze used in Slovenia, from http://sl. ... A drawknife is a woodworking tool used to shape wood. ... Bark is the outermost layer of stems and roots of woody plants such as trees. ...


Since paint introduces small amounts of potentially toxic chemicals into a protected environment, it is often preferred to keep the rectangles small, to a standard size of 2 by 3 inches (5 by 7.5 cm). Some trails or parks have used larger sizes, however. The standard blaze for the Appalachian Trail is a white rectangle 2 by 6 inches (5 by 15 cm). The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply The A.T., is a 2,174 mile (3500 km) marked hiking trail in the eastern United States, extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. ...


Painted blazes fade with time and exposure and must be repainted every so often.


Affixed markers

An official NYSDEC marker in Catskill Park. Note protruding nail to allow for tree growth
An official NYSDEC marker in Catskill Park. Note protruding nail to allow for tree growth

Alternatively, plastic, metal or even sometimes wooden markers may be affixed to trees, usually by nails. These last longer than paint, but are vulnerable to both the chewing of animals (porcupines especially) and the growth of the tree swallowing the nails and causing the marker to fall off. To protect against this possibility, most markers are put on nails with some space between the head and the bark. Markers thus require more skill and labor than paint, and also require an area with an abundant supply of trees to work as intended as they are difficult to place on rocks. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1100x1467, 525 KB)Photographed by Daniel Case on the Escarpment Trail in the Catskills on 2005-08-03 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1100x1467, 525 KB)Photographed by Daniel Case on the Escarpment Trail in the Catskills on 2005-08-03 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1. ... The Catskill State Park, also called Catskill Park, is in the Catskill Mountains in New York in the United States. ... Household items made out of plastic. ... Hot metal work from a blacksmith In chemistry, a metal (Greek: Metallon) is an element that readily forms positive ions (cations) and has metallic bonds. ... A tree trunk as found at the Veluwe, The Netherlands Wood is derived from woody plants, notably trees but also shrubs. ... A pile of nails Nails A twisted nail This article is about nails as used in engineering. ... Porcupines are rodents best known for their coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend them from predators. ...


Flagging

A rare use of a tape flag as a blaze on an official trail, here indicating where the trail re-enters the woods after crossing an open ledge
A rare use of a tape flag as a blaze on an official trail, here indicating where the trail re-enters the woods after crossing an open ledge

Surveyor's tape hung from branches or tied around trees is sometimes used to indicate trail routes, but usually only for temporary or unofficial trails, most commonly when a trail route has been selected but the trail itself is under construction. They are sometimes used for permanent trails, but even though they are probably the easiest blazes to place this is rarely seen as they are the most vulnerable to the elements of any trail blazing method. Nor are they always easy to see. Image File history File links Tape_flag. ... Image File history File links Tape_flag. ... Surveyor at work with a leveling instrument. ...


Cairns

A cairn trail marker on Snowbank Trail in Northern Minnesota just inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This is a typical trail marker found across State and National parks in the United States.
A cairn trail marker on Snowbank Trail in Northern Minnesota just inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This is a typical trail marker found across State and National parks in the United States.

Cairns, also called "ducks",[citation needed] are carefully arranged piles of stones, and are most commonly used to indicate trails in open areas, such as higher-elevation alpine areas, where no trees are available and painting on rocks is often done but either would not last or are not always easy to see. In the Presidential Range of New Hampshire's White Mountains, for example, cairns are found at ten-foot (three-meter) intervals along trails above treeline, so that hikers forced to crawl by heavy winds and occasional infamously lethal weather can find their way to safety. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1023x768, 445 KB) Summary Aaron Fulkerson - http://www. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1023x768, 445 KB) Summary Aaron Fulkerson - http://www. ... A cairn trail marker on Snowbank Trail. ... Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  Ranked 12th  - Total 87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 8. ... The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA or BWCAW, sometimes casually referred to as the bee-dub) is a 1. ... One of many cairns marking British mass graves at the site of the Battle of Isandlwana. ... For the climate of the mountains named the Alps, see climate) for a region above the tree-line. ... This article concerns the best-known Presidential Range; for the range of the same name in the Green Mountains of Vermont, see Presidential Range. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... This article is about the White Mountains of New Hampshire. ... In this view of an alpine tree-line, the distant line looks particularly sharp. ...


Below treeline, cairns are used less frequently, often like flagging to indicate informal or unofficial paths or just their junctions with official trails. They are the least visually intrusive and most environmentally friendly blazing method. However, their construction requires sufficient stones be either available in the area or brought to the trail. They tend to get buried under snow in areas with heavy winters as well as being knocked over and scattered by animals or vandals. These drawbacks make cairns not a favored method of indicating trails. Animation of snowcover changing with the seasons. ... For other senses of this word, see winter (disambiguation). ... A caricature of Gustave Courbet taking down a Morris column, published by Le Père Duchêne illustré magazine Vandalism is the conspicuous defacement destruction of a structure or symbol against the will of the owner/governing body. ...


In some parts of the world, it is traditional for walkers to add a stone to cairns as they pass. This particularly applies to summit-cairns.


Carved blazes

As a means of creating employment opportunities during the depression the federal government created jobs for the unemployed blazing trails and laying markers. This is a photograph of such a marker taken on Snowbank Trail inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota.

Lastly there are trails blazed by cuts made in bark by axe or knife, usually the former. Most often these are informal routes made by loggers or hunters, or trails descended from those routes. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1023x768, 429 KB) Summary Aaron Fulkerson - http://www. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1023x768, 429 KB) Summary Aaron Fulkerson - http://www. ... The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn which started in 1929 (although its effects were not fully felt until late 1930) and lasted through most of the 1930s. ... A cairn trail marker on Snowbank Trail. ... The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA or BWCAW, sometimes casually referred to as the bee-dub) is a 1. ... Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  Ranked 12th  - Total 87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 8. ... The axe or ax is an ancient and ubiquitous tool that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. ... Traditional Finnish puukko knife A knife is a sharp-edged hand tool used for cutting. ... Loggers on break, c. ... It has been suggested that Big-game hunter be merged into this article or section. ...


While carvings can be set at eye level, just like paint, they have a natural tendency to change into something unusable as the tree grows and heals what is essentially a wound. Due to the maintenance and skill this requires, as well as an increasing aversion to doing something so damaging to the tree, this is almost never used for new trails today.


However, in past centuries it was often the only method used.


Degree of blazing

It is not enough to simply cut a trail, and then blaze it via the chosen method. The trail builder must consider first how much blazing to use. The different land-management philosophies principles often have a practical impact on this decision, as well as the kind of users the trail is likely to get and what kind of trail it is in the first place. In wilderness areas, whether state or federal, it is preferred that blazes be kept to a minimum so that the land seems "untrammeled by man," as the U.S. Wilderness Act, the first statute on this subject, requires. Most wilderness trails are also used by serious hikers and backpackers who find excessive blazing to be visually annoying and distracting. Broadly, a wilderness area is a region where the land is left in a state where human modifications are minimal; that is, as a wilderness. ... President Lyndon Johnson signs the Wilderness Act of 1964 in the White House Rose Garden. ... A statute is a formal, written law of a country or state, written and enacted by its legislative authority, perhaps to then be ratified by the highest executive in the government, and finally published. ... Backpacking in the Grand Teton National Park, United States Backpacking (also tramping or trekking in some countries) is the complete combination of hiking and camping. ...


By contrast, in a typical municipal or county park, or any land open to a wide variety of users, especially one where overnight camping is either forbidden or infrequent (for example, if it is located in a well-developed metropolitan area), one can expect much more casual users who are not used to finding trails and appreciate frequent blazes. A county is generally a sub-unit of regional self-government within a sovereign jurisdiction. ... An Australian park A park is any of a number of geographic features. ... Car camping is camping in a tent, but nearby the car for easier access and for supply storage Camping is an outdoor recreational activity, in which the campers get away from civilization and enjoy nature by spending one or more nights at a campsite. ...


Single-track trails of the sort favored by those on foot also receive more blazes than those that follow old roads or other wide routes, which are often self-evident and are thus usually blazed only as necessary to infrequently reassure travelers, by whatever means, of the route they have chosen.


Systems of blazing

On a large piece of land, there is likely to be at least more than one trail. The person or persons responsible for maintaining the trails, along with whatever public or private entity has ultimate authority over the land, decide on how systematic they wish the trail blazing to be.

Typical blaze on the Appalachian Trail
Enlarge
Typical blaze on the Appalachian Trail

While it might seem obvious that, at minimum, trails should at least take different colors, this is not always done. In Mount Greylock State Reservation, which contains the highest mountain in Massachusetts, all trails other than the Appalachian Trail use the same blue blaze (pictured above). Usually at least, the same blazing method is to be used on all the trails to be blazed. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2816x1875, 3429 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Appalachian Trail User:CGP Trail blazing Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2816x1875, 3429 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Appalachian Trail User:CGP Trail blazing Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera... Mount Greylock is a mountain of 3,491 feet (1,064 m) in northwestern Massachusetts, on the Appalachian Trail just south of Vermont and not too far east of New York. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  Ranked 44th  - Total 10,555 sq mi (27,360 km²)  - Width 183 miles (295 km)  - Length 113 miles (182 km)  - % water 13. ...


However, blaze type might be mixed when different user groups (i.e., snowmobilers, horse riders, mountain bikers) are allowed on trails. For users of faster vehicles, blazes are often more outsized in order to be seen better at high speeds, and sometimes affixed markers best communicate who may and may not use a trail besides those on foot. A snowmobile tour at Yellowstone National Park, note the snowdust in the air (NPS Photo) A 1997 Arctic Cat ZR 580 Snowmobile A snowmobile (or snow scooter, often referred to by enthusiasts as a sled and in the Canadian north and Alaska as a snowmachine) is a land vehicle propelled... A young rider at a horse show in Australia. ... A cross country mountain bike race A hardtail mountain bike A mountain bike, mountain bicycle (a. ...


Colors are often assigned simply with an eye toward making sure that no two trails that intersect use the same one, but it can go further than that. On all state land in New York's Catskill Park, for instance, primary trails, especially longer "trunk trails" that go great distances, use red markers if they go in a generally east-west direction and blue if they go north-south. Shorter spur, loop or connector trails take yellow (There is one exception; the recently-constructed Mill Brook Ridge Trail uses yellow due to connecting at either end to two shorter red-blazed trails which should really be yellow under the system, but for which color was not an issue for many years). Official language(s) English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  Ranked 27th  - Total 54,520 sq mi (141,205 km²)  - Width 285 miles (455 km)  - Length 330 miles (530 km)  - % water 13. ... The Catskill State Park, also called Catskill Park, is in the Catskill Mountains in New York in the United States. ...


On the rare occasions when two trails run concurrently, usually at a slightly staggered junction, there is no multiplexing, in contrast to numbered highways. In those cases, the longer or more heavily-trafficked trail's blaze predominates, to minimize confusion. And in some other cases, such as southern Vermont where the AT and the Long Trail follow the same path, there is the fortunate accident of both trails using the same white blaze. A multiplex or concurrency on a road network occurs where a single physical road carries two or more different highway, motorway, or other road numbers. ... Official language(s) None[1] Capital Montpelier Largest city Burlington Area  Ranked 45th  - Total 9,620 sq mi (24,923 km²)  - Width 80 miles (130 km)  - Length 160 miles (260 km)  - % water 3. ... The Long Trail is a hiking trail which covers the length of the state of Vermont running north and south 272 miles from the Massachusetts border (near Williamstown) to the Canadian border near North Troy, Vermont. ...


A trail blazing system must also consider whether there are any property lines that approach or intersect trails, since if they are not posted paint blazes and tape are common ways of indicating these, and can cause confusion for users.


Meaning of blazes

The most common symbols used in trail blazing. Note: Turn signals are often non-directional— one blaze is placed directly above the other.
The most common symbols used in trail blazing. Note: Turn signals are often non-directional— one blaze is placed directly above the other.

Even within the confines of a single trail, blazes must do more than simply reassure the trail user he or she is on the trail. They must alert the users to imminent turns, particularly if there is some confusion about what might be the trail, which can occur often in open woods, rocky open areas or on lightly-used trails, and where trails begin and end.  ©  This image is copyrighted. ...  ©  This image is copyrighted. ...


Volunteers working in Harriman State Park in the 1930s for the newly-formed New York - New Jersey Trail Conference developed a system whereby a vertically stacked pair of blazes, with the upper one generally offset in the direction that the trail turns; a triangular pattern of blazes would indicate a terminus, its point up or down depending on whether that was the beginning or the end. These began to be used elsewhere and are now fairly standard throughout North America. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) is a federation of more than 95 hiking clubs and environmental organizations with approximately 10,000 members. ...


A triangular pattern with its point to the side was also devised (see diagram at right) for eventualities like spurs or junctions, but these have not caught on.


As noted above, this system does much to encourage the use of paint blazes. Markers can also follow these patterns; but are not always (in the Catskill Park and most other lands overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, turns are indicated by a simple vertically stacked pair of markers, with no directional offset). It cannot be used with cairns or tape flags, and probably not with carved blazes. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC or DEC) is responsible for the conservation, improvement, and protection of natural resources within the U.S. state of New York. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Trail blazing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2017 words)
Trail blazing means marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with blazes, markings that follow each other at a certain, though not necessarily exactly defined distance and mark the direction of the trail.
Blazes may also be painted on obvious rock surfaces or on posts set into the ground (or on utility poles, fences, or other handy surfaces) where the trail follows a road or goes through fields and meadows.
The standard blaze for the Appalachian Trail is a white rectangle 2 by 6 inches (5 by 15 cm).
Trail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2068 words)
Where bike trails intersect with pedestrian or equestrian trails, signage at the intersections is important, and high visibility onto the intersecting trails must be a priority in order to prevent collisions between fast-moving cyclists and slower moving hikers and horses.
A hard trail surface and drainage is a critically important issue on horse trails because of the relatively greater bearing impact of the horse's hoof on the trail than a hiker's foot.
Trails, by their nature, tend to become drainage channels and eventually gullies if the drainage is not properly controlled.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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