[Tagging] Hiking "guideposts" painted on rocks, trees etc.

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Thu Jul 23 16:32:25 UTC 2020

On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 10:23 AM Paul Allen <pla16021 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Good question.  But it more closely resembles a guidepost than a blaze.
> Whereas the things being shoe-horned into guidepost in this thread more
> closely resemble blazes.  Elaborate blazes with text.  Not that I'm
> arguing we should abuse either tag by using for other things that
> go against expectations.
Sometimes 'expectations' turn out, on examination, to be 'cultural
assumptions'. I tend to prefer, where possible, to interpret tags _sensu
lato,_ because otherwise there's a tagging quandary any time something
doesn't fit the definition _sensu stricto_.

In the strict sense that you are advocating. I suspect that my area has
absolutely nothing that you would call a 'guidepost',.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14276154341 is probably the closest,
since the signs are outboard from the support, but even there, they aren't
finger- or blade-shaped; they are rectangular signs hanging from a
cantilevered arm.

Cantilevered arms are unusual. Commoner practice around here is just to
nail the signs to the support as with
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/15541120652 and

Using a post is also uncommon. It's much more usual for the signs to be
placed on whatever is available. Most commonly, that's a tree:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14092717700 but it can be a utility
pole https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/6936695538 a building
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14190539728 or some other convenient
surface. (I've seen them on cliff faces, boulders, cairns and bridge
railings, but I don't have photos to hand.)

The common thread in all cases is that there's an enumeration of
destinations, with directions identifying the ways that go to them, and
(usually) the distances to the destinations. I distinguish a guidepost from
a trail blaze in that a trail blaze ordinarily identifies only the trail
you're on - or even just that you're on a trail - and sometimes (more
often, just by implication) the direction to follow.

Depending on the land manager's practice, around me a blaze could be a
simple splash of paint https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14018094576, a
generic marker in tin or plastic
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14018066876, a slightly less generic
marker showing a trail purpose such as a spur leading to a campsite
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/10282365273, a sign with a route number
(here also augmented with a generic blaze for a snowmobile trail)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14318057029, or the logo of a
particular trail. For example, in
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/7881583380 the stylized AT is the
symbol for the Appalachian Trail, which goes through the crawlway as
indicated by the arrow. The white rectangle (about 5 x 15 cm, long axis
vertical) is the AT's usual blaze. On the sign already shown at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14092717700, there's a Long Path marker
at upper left, with that particular trail's logo on it. (Its customary
blaze is a 5 x 10 cm rectangle in aquamarine, already seen at

Usually the only directional indication with a trail blaze will be an
arrow, and it's commoner to indicate the direction by conventional
placement of the markers. In https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/4988268609,
there are two markers on the tree at right, with the top one offset to the
right, indicating a right turn.

I don't ordinarily map trail blazes unless they're otherwise interesting
for some reason. I make route relations for them.

Sometimes, where a trail crosses open country (farmland or marshy ground)
where there are no stones to build a cairn or natural surfaces to paint a
blaze, a trail will be marked using posts with the blazes marked on them.
Confusingly, the word 'guidepost' is also used in common speech for these,
but I wouldn't use the 'guidepost' tag for them!

I don't think I've ever seen a UK-style finger post on a trail or road
around here.

73 de ke9tv/2, Kevin
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