top of page
  • Writer's picturebalzaccom

When to Cairn?

I got a lot of feedback from my post about trailwork to Lake Margaret. Lots of people wondering why we are taking down cairns. It's pretty simple: they're unnecessary. And part of Leave No Trace is to know...Leave No Trace.

A completely unnecessary cairn on North Dome, in Yosemite. What? You can't tell where to go from here?

Should you ever put up a cairn? Before you do, ask yourself this question: Am I lost? If you are lost, don't put up a cairn. It will just confuse anyone who follows you. If you are not lost, then you don't need to put up a cairn. You found your way just fine. Please allow other hikers to do the same.

If you can see where the trail goes, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see the trail behind you, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see a log cut for the trail, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see a blaze on a tree, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see footprints in the dirt or sand, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see a path through the grass, don't put up a cairn.

If you can see branches outlining the trail, Don't put up a cairn.

If you can a cairn ahead or behind you, don't put up a cairn.

If you are moved to create artwork with natural materials, do it at home. Don't put up a cairn.

And if you do put up a cairn to help you find you way back....take it down on your way back.

When in doubt, don't put up a cairn.

30 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

What's it like up there now?

The Yosemite snow rangers have posted another report from Tuolumne Meadows. Snow conditions continue to evolve, and another storm this weekend could have an impact, but there is no question that sprin

Spring is around the corner

Although the new snow has left more than four feet of the stuff on the ground, spring may be on its way, at least, that's what the rangers spending the winter in Tuolumne Meadows seem to think. That's

1 Comment

Bill Dyer
Bill Dyer
Oct 09, 2022

I experienced the problem with the proliferation of cairns. Setting out from the trailhead between the Blue Lakes, intending to hike to Grouse Lake, I followed what appeared to be a well-traveled trail leading from the crossing over the dam. This trail turned out to not be the trail to Granite and Grouse Lakes, which actually was a hard left, following the stream before turning up hill. The trail I took soon headed across granite, with cairns marking what I took to be the trail. But the “trail” looped around in a big circle, leaving me at the dam once more after hiking a couple of hours. By the time I got started on the correct trail, my stamina and…

bottom of page