View Full Version : Ease of Following Trail?

12-31-2002, 11:25
For those of you that have through-hiked the AT, is it relatively easy to follow the white blazes? I've only hiked a portion of the trail through SNP in Virginia. It seemed well maintained and easy to follow. Other backpacking experiences, however, include somewhat "primitive" trail conditions---overgrown brush, junctions that are not well marked, etc.

Since it looks like I'll be hiking solo quite a bit, and I'm not the best of having a sense of direction, I'm interested in your thoughts on this matter...


Lone Wolf
12-31-2002, 11:30
It's extremely easy to follow the white blazes UNLESS you're a blue-blazer like me. I have a short attention span so I always need a diversion. Seriously the AT is well marked. That's the least of your worries.

12-31-2002, 11:59
Is the trail generally maintained well? Is it relatively wide---lending itself to covering more miles than trails that are narrow, overgrown, etc.?


Lone Wolf
12-31-2002, 12:08
Yes it is well maintained the entire length. A few miles here and there may get overgrown in the heat of the summer but not a concern as far as making mileage.

12-31-2002, 12:58
Your question about ease of following - The trail is extrmemly well maintained. I found it easy to average around 3mph the whole way with a few exceptions. Parts of ME and the White Mtns pace slowed down to about 1.5 mph. The trail in this area is steeper, rockier, ruttier rootier. A couple days in PA where the notorious rocks are at their worse slowed us down a bit to.

Keep an eye out for the section from the top of Goose Eye to the Full Goose Shelter in the Southern Maine. It had better be the most well maintained you've been on, or at least you better say so.

12-31-2002, 14:47
Yes, the trail is generally well marked and well maintained, but that doesn't mean that even the best of hikers doesn't occasionally make a wrong turn or miss a turn. I find I miss turns most when the trail is following a wide woods road for awhile and then veers off it--I just keep going on the wider trail. But you notice quickly and go back to look for blazes. If you don't see blazed for 1/4 to 1/2 mile, go back to the last blaze and start looking. Sometimes there are no blazes for some distance and you begin to wonder, but this is generally in areas where the trail is obvious and there are no turn-offs.

01-01-2003, 16:51
I agree, blazing is generally pretty good, although there are certainly times when I try to figure out what in the world the trailblazer was thinking.

At the end of my October section hike in Virginia, I developed an outline in my head for a typology of trail blazers that would include a description of: The Basketball Player: Blazes at an "eye level" of 6' 8"
The Cave Man: Blazes only on rocks
The Pioneer: "You shouldn't be out here if you need a blaze to walk on a wide open trail"
The Ripper: Blazes that are cracked and "bleeding"
The Engineer: Perfect blazes that conform to ATC guidelines in every way
The Old-Timer: "I put a blaze on that tree back in '64 that's still there"
The Newbie: Characterized by an incredible number of blazes within a mile of the road crossing that then gradually peter out as the blazer gets tired and realizes that their paint won't last until the next road.
Anyone want to add to my list?

Bad Ass Turtle
01-01-2003, 17:41
I have to agree with DebW. I was pretty notorious for getting lost in my head and not noticing that the trail turned off. I would suddenly realize that I hadn't seen a blaze in a while . . . then I would give myself about 15 minutes. If I hadn't seen a blaze in that time, I would just turn around and go back until I found the trail again. Nothing scary as far as being lost, ever.

There were some places in Connecticut, however, where the trail was really overgrown and bushy -- in the heat of the summer. You couldn't get lost, but all of the scratchy bushes got really annoying. Or maybe it was the 103 degree temps at the time . . .

01-03-2003, 10:13
exorcist: only puts blazes on one side of tree so you need to keep watching behind you to see if you're on the trail

chameleon: like to use trees whose color most closely matches blaze color

BTW: after 20 years of hiking I noticed a pattern in double blazes (denoting turn). If the top blaze is to the left of the bottom one, a left turn is coming (or vice versa). It just hit me 3 months ago near Hot Springs. I do not think this good idea is followed universally, however.


Bandana Man
01-03-2003, 13:37
I like the exorcist one! It's so true. If I don't pass a blaze in a while I keep turning my head around looking behind me. But does that mean the trail blazer is the exorcist or demon-possessed?