|Blazing and Signage
PATC Trail Overseers are responsibile for ensuring that their trail section is adequately marked, is easy to follow, and that any signage is accurate and in good condition. Overseers are tasked with keeping blazes in good condition, and with painting new blazes as required (particularly when blazed trees are lost to wind or other damage). Blazes may only consist of neatly painted 6" rectangles, double blazes must be "in line" (i.e. one directly over the other), and the color must be either the approved white (for the Appalachian Trail) or the approved blue (for all PATC-maintained side trails). Overseers should obtain blazing paint from the PATC. The club will also supply scrapers and brushes, if needed.
The SHEN/PATC General Agreement spells out overseer responsibilities in its Trail Standards section:
Objective: The objective in blazing is to mark the trail often enough to guide the hiker and keep the trail distinguishable, but not so often that blazes become a visual intrusion. On the low-use Wilderness and Non-wilderness trails, blazing is not necessarily intended for the convenience of the hiker, but to keep the trail distinguishable, open, and maintained for hikers of various ages and experience levels typically travelling in SNP backcountry.
General Standards for blazing:
- Use 2" X 6" vertical rectangles.
- Place at eye-level on live trees. Avoid painting rocks
- Use double blazes (one above the other) for sharp turns and trail junctions
- Blazes should be visible across an intersection with another trail, a stream, or road.
- Where two blazes of different colors are used on the same trail, the two blazes are to be placed side-by-side.
- Avoid overblazing.
- Cairns, metal diamond markers, etc. should not be used to mark trails.
Standards for low-use Wilderness and Non-wilderness Blue-blazed trails
- Use blue paint for maintained foot trails.
- Reblaze only as necessary (generally no more than every three years) to keep blazes visible. Carefully remove excess blazing.
- No more than one blaze should be visible at any time, unless special conditions warrant (i.e. trail difficult to follow due to overgrown vegetation).
- When standing at one blaze, pick a prominent spot ahead, walk past it a short distance and blaze the next prominent spot. Blazes should be 300-700 feet apart if possible. Avoid abrupt changes in frequency.
Standards for moderate-use and high-use Wilderness and Non-wilderness Blue-blazed trails and for the Appalachian Trail
- Use blue paint for maintained foot trails; white blazes for the AT
- Reblaze every few years to keep blazes visible and to replace missing or enlarged blazes. Carefully remove excess blazing.
- No more than one blaze should be visible at any time, unless special conditions warrant.
- When standing at one blaze, pick a prominent spot ahead, walk to it, pick the next good spot and place the blaze there. Blazes should be 300-500 feet apart. Avoid abrupt changes in frequency.
Techniques for Blazing:
- Pick prominent, large, living trees; dark-colored bark provides a better contrast for the blaze.
- Choose trees which are prominent when foliage is out (clip away low bushes or protruding branches to clear the blaze area).
- Scrape a 3" X 7" rectangle on thick barked trees.
- Rub moss and lichen off a 3" X 7" rectangle on thin barked trees.
- Paint neatly; avoid using too much paint (it will run down the tree).
- Blaze in the direction you are hiking; walk back to blaze the other direction.
- Avoid blazing rocks
- To avoid overblazing, err on the side of too few blazes; more can be placed later if needed.
Equipment for Blazing:
- 1 gallon bucket with bail,
- 1" brush,
- blaze paint,
- paint scraper
- rags, paper towels, aluminum foil to wrap brush in until cleaning, etc., and
- brush cleaner and hand cleaner for afterwards.
SEE ALSO: PATC OVERSEER'S MANUAL & TIPS FROM THE CREW (How To Paint Blazes)