Trail Development

Marking


Once your trail is constructed to your satisfaction, the last stage is the actual marking of the trail with permanent markers that will replace the Barrier Tape that has served its purpose up to now. The Barrier tape will most probably been torn to pieces by Baboons in any case if you have them on your land.

The purpose of marking a trail is to indicate the direction of the trail and to confirm to the hiker that they are still following the correct path. The makings should be neat and unobtrusive while being clear and distinct. Markers can take any form that you wish but the standard form that seems to work very well is the white footprint preferably on a black background.

 
Some of the original markers on the Amatola Trail can still be seen

(The original markers of the Amatola Trail was the Blue Crane, the emblem of the former Ciskei homeland)

As a rule, if you are standing next to one marker, the next marker should be clearly visible and point in the direction of the path. Where there is a deviation in the path direction or at a path junction two footprints, side by side should be painted to indicate that care should be taken in determining direction.

Change of direction.

Here you can clearly see that a change of path direction is at hand. However one set (the top one) should be quite sufficient.

Distance traveled, painted in black inside the footprint, is an optioned that is welcomed by hikers, especially on the longer days.

Any paint recommended for outdoor use can be used for the purpose of marking the trail. However an important consideration is the type, dryness and cleanliness of the surface to be painted on.

Markers on poles are quite a good idea in long grass but animals have a habit of using them as scratching poles. For neatness a stencil should be used.

Painting directly on to the bark of tree is not generally a good idea as trees have a habit of rejecting the paint and shedding the bark concerned. A better idea is to paint onto metal or similar and attach to the tree using non corrosive screws. Marking the trail across open grassland can take the form of steel droppers, waste high, painted white at the top. Bi-directional trails should be clearly indicated as such with clear markings in both directions.

Linking trails and other trails that deviate from the main route should be indicated in a different colour. Usually yellow is used as a secondary colour while blue is used to indicate detours to swimming pools and waterfalls that are of the main trail.

Another popular form of marking is the use of piles of stones (cairns) for showing the way across flat areas with a rock surface. Baboons have a habit of demolishing these in search of food. It is also of little use to painted makers on movable rocks as these get turned over or moved.

Marking can be overdone!

The obvious frustration of a land owner when hikers continue to complain about not being able to follow a trail.

Interpretive notices, Tree numbers and Trail notices

Interpretive notices

These are boards placed at strategic places along the route to explain interesting facts about the area. The information can appear on the board itself or the board can have a number that relates to a section in the trail brochure. I don't believe enough trails make use of this educational opportunity that exists.

National Tree Numbers

Members of Dendrological Society are active in putting name tags on trees. When you develop your trail it is a good idea to invite members from the local branch to come and walk your trail and identify your trees.

Trail Notices

These can take the form or warnings of that care must be taken along parts of the trail that could be dangerous and indicating alternative routes, splits in the trail indicating the alternatives and direction to waterfalls etc that might be a detour of the main trail.