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I generally stay on trails and have never felt the need to mark my passage. However, I've been kicking around the idea of carrying a small spray paint can in my day-hiking bag to mark trees with a small spot or "X" of bright neon paint on the far side of the tree so I can see it when I'm walking back. I don't see how this would harm the tree but some people might perceive it as an eyesore.

An alternative would be to place brightly colored tape on the trees or to score an "X" into a tree with a hatchet. Also, if I do get lost I can start marking trees and at least know that I've already been at that location and avoid walking around in circles.

You can argue that anyone who studies the local map and who carries a compass shouldn't become truly lost when venturing off the trail but we all know reality is different from theory.

Any thoughts?
 

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Born 120 years too late.
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IF it is already a "Trail" as indicted on some map or marker at trail head and is clearly definable, I see no problem making it more defined so long as it isn't permanent. You could use blackboard chalk and it will wash away with time.

If you are breaking trail or bushwhacking.. for what purpose?
If making a new trail to be followed by others then mark at discretion.

one of the reasons I love Denali is once you are past the visitors center area there are NO trails marked or otherwise and you are on your own to find your way. No markings of any kind in places like that. IF you need a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way home.. then don't leave home to begin with or go to Yellowstone or Yosemite where the trails are basically paved and the thousands of people communing with nature in a herd make it tough to get lost.
 

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Basket of deplorables
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Wouldn't a better way to go is set GPS way points. If you don't want to use a GPS learn your pace count and use a pencil and paper shooting azimuth lines to prominent features. I suppose if you really wanted to use spray paint it could be done but it's more than likely going to have a negative effect. Even after painting a tree should you get lost it's not really going to give you a whole lot of help other than knowing you were there before unless you leave a Hansel and Gretel trail every few feet of marking. If you are dead set on something like this why not place some stones on the side of the tree you are talking about?
 

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Plays best, alone
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Just make it a blue vertical line about one ft long at about eye level. That way us transplanted northerners will think it's a "No Trespassing" area and you can have it to yourself. :D:

or just use some of those shiny tacks and stick them on it. Hunters use them all the time. I wouldn't cut up any live trees or remove bark.
 

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Beware of the dog!
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Is it just for a day or two?
Use a single sheet of toilet paper on a small branch every 10 or 20 yards. After the next heavy rain it will wash away.
 

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reluctant sinner
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GPS not working? Flagging will rot away quickly enough. I have scribed hundreds of bearing trees and placed thousands of Korner tags. Only one time did I ax blaze a line about 1/2 mile long.

You can stack rocks, or point the way back with arrows from dead fall. Snapping branches can work. Cut a notch in the sole of one of your boots
 

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Only politics *****.
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Don't mark things on trails. On certain trails, people have gotten lost because idiots started building cairns everywhere. "but it's just a pile of stones", used for marking and navigation, yes. If everyone starts marking their stuff like that, imagine the next time you want to hike a trail being: piece of tape, piece of different colored tape, string dangling, tp hanging from a branch, branches broken down in a certain direction, stones spraypainted, random pieces of TP, bark removed from trees, x 100 for the last 800 people who wanted to "mark their trails".
 

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OP marking trees with paint like you are suggesting is how forest service marks them to be cut down. They could come along and cut down perfectly healthy trees because of your graffiti. I would suggest using bright colored tape hung from a branch which has been the preferred method for as long as I can remember.
 

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High Concept
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I generally stay on trails and have never felt the need to mark my passage. However, I've been kicking around the idea of carrying a small spray paint can in my day-hiking bag to mark trees with a small spot or "X" of bright neon paint on the far side of the tree so I can see it when I'm walking back. I don't see how this would harm the tree but some people might perceive it as an eyesore.

An alternative would be to place brightly colored tape on the trees or to score an "X" into a tree with a hatchet. Also, if I do get lost I can start marking trees and at least know that I've already been at that location and avoid walking around in circles.

You can argue that anyone who studies the local map and who carries a compass shouldn't become truly lost when venturing off the trail but we all know reality is different from theory.

Any thoughts?
I just use the old Indian method and mark with white feathers if I have to. Or crossed sticks with string. Take a bag of bamboo skewers and feathers. Cost a buck each.

Try mark line of sight the longest distance you can see, both sides of the tree.

Chemlights have helped many times when I know I have to return in the dark. Green for trail, and red for vehicle. Red chemlight I put on the uhf aerial.
 

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If it is land you don't own I would not consider marking the trees with a hatchet or knife. I also wouldn't go with paint for the same reasons. Different colors of paint have a meaning in the woods:blue/purple means no trespassing, white, orange, red and yellow all have some meaning in logging. I also can't think of too many reasons I would want someone to be able to see my trail that well.

The only exception I can think of would be if someone is truely lost and marking their progress to be easier to find or for search and rescue.

Surveyors tape or other flagging material(removed when done using the trail) or breaking small twigs at eye height, purposely stepping in mud to leave tracks are all good ways to mark a trail.

In the past I wanted to mark a trail from where my son was hunting to where I was hunting so he could make his way to me if necessary. I marked trees with with a line drawn in charcoal about eye height, it was nearly invisible unless you knew what to look for and it didn't harm the trees, I assume over time it faded as well.

I also rarely come out of the woods on the same path I go in. Instead I take a bearing of the sun or moon(I rarely think ahead to carry a compass and the times that I did I ended up giving it to someone else I was with who wasn't as comfortable in the woods as I was) From there I take a note that the road heads east-west, and I am walking in more or less north. Worst case, if I head south I will hit the road then walk the road to the van.
 

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I generally stay on trails and have never felt the need to mark my passage. However, I've been kicking around the idea of carrying a small spray paint can in my day-hiking bag to mark trees with a small spot or "X" of bright neon paint on the far side of the tree so I can see it when I'm walking back. I don't see how this would harm the tree but some people might perceive it as an eyesore.

An alternative would be to place brightly colored tape on the trees or to score an "X" into a tree with a hatchet. Also, if I do get lost I can start marking trees and at least know that I've already been at that location and avoid walking around in circles.

You can argue that anyone who studies the local map and who carries a compass shouldn't become truly lost when venturing off the trail but we all know reality is different from theory.

Any thoughts?
I think it's a bad idea. You can say it's only a dot, but then the next guy makes a dot and the next, and the next. 10 years later it's dolka-dot ville in the forest. Ok so I really don't think it would get that bad ever but I still don't think its a good idea. Leave the forest as it is.

The Engineer tape is a better option as you can pull those as you pass by them leaving no trace after your done.
 

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Jackpine Savage
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Just make it a blue vertical line about one ft long at about eye level. That way us transplanted northerners will think it's a "No Trespassing" area and you can have it to yourself. :D:

or just use some of those shiny tacks and stick them on it. Hunters use them all the time. I wouldn't cut up any live trees or remove bark.
Cat eyes is what you are talking about with the tacks and they won't really work during the day. They are there to catch light on your way in or out in the dark.
 

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I think it's a bad idea. You can say it's only a dot, but then the next guy makes a dot and the next, and the next. 10 years later it's dolka-dot ville in the forest. Ok so I really don't think it would get that bad ever but I still don't think its a good idea. Leave the forest as it is.

The Engineer tape is a better option as you can pull those as you pass by them leaving no trace after your done.
You are probably right. Although it is what I had on hand at the time. One public area I hunt is full of reflective tacks and blue, pink, red, orange, white and other color marking tape. Some of the tape is just an inch long others are left to hang a foot or more. It is caused by a dozen different people using the same parking spot and wanting to mark their trail in a distinctive way. Some remove their markings at the end of the season, some don't.

I have also seen muddy hand prints on a row of trees in the same area. My assumption is it was marking someones trail.
 

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Is it just for a day or two?
Use a single sheet of toilet paper on a small branch every 10 or 20 yards. After the next heavy rain it will wash away.
Please, for the love of God..don't do that, unless you clean up your own paper!
Nothing worse than TP all over the freaking place, looking like a latrine was dug every 30 feet, and no, it DOESN'T just wash away.

OP marking trees with paint like you are suggesting is how forest service marks them to be cut down. They could come along and cut down perfectly healthy trees because of your graffiti. I would suggest using bright colored tape hung from a branch which has been the preferred method for as long as I can remember.
As long as you police up your tape when leaving....:thumb:
 

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I'd take a pack of tacks, paint the heads neon orange, and mark trees with small dots that you can reuse. If you need the dots larger, fix some small tape flags to them so they blow around a bit in the wind. For night, I heard someone say they use UV paint and a small UV flashlight to make the dots pop in the dark. Never done it myself, but it sounded like it could work.
 

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Jackpine Savage
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I just want to say that I have seen a couple people mention blue or purple as marking no tresspassing areas. I may be ignorant on this, but after 30 years of legally hunting I have never heard of that so it may be regional or it may be something most people don't know about.

I have honestly never heard of that from any of my assorted family or friends that I have hunted with over the years. I can't think of anybody that would look at some blue dots on trees and think anything other than "**** they are going to cut this soon so I better hunt it now".

I have signs on my property and would never just paint some trees.
 

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SBs Resident Non Prepper
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There is a reason why most places want you to stay on established trails.... they don’t want you destroying the place.
Don’t go spray painting trees.....hanging toilet paper.... bright color tape....etc.
keep the backcountry like it is....untouched.
If you fear getting lost....stay home
GPS waypoints.... use a map and compass....be aware of your surroundings and make notes of terrain and obstacles
 

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I just want to say that I have seen a couple people mention blue or purple as marking no tresspassing areas. I may be ignorant on this, but after 30 years of legally hunting I have never heard of that so it may be regional or it may be something most people don't know about.

I have honestly never heard of that from any of my assorted family or friends that I have hunted with over the years. I can't think of anybody that would look at some blue dots on trees and think anything other than "**** they are going to cut this soon so I better hunt it now".

I have signs on my property and would never just paint some trees.
Purple bands around the trees are what’s used!

It’s getting more common, but is still only used in certain states!

Google no trespassing purple to get an idea.

WV put the purple laws in place a couple years ago. The idea is it’s easier/cheaper than signs that get torn down and doesn’t leave nails in the tree for saws to hit!

They usually want signs on road entrances and sometimes every so many hundreds of yards and bands of purple usually head high on property line trees around the rest of the property.

It’s pretty convenient for property owners and carries the same legal weight as a sign!

Blue or any dots don’t mean no trespassing as far as I know!

SD
 
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