Mark a Trail

Make your own trail—and see where it takes you!

Some nature trails have posted signs to tell you which way to go. But you can make your own trail signs for a one-of-a-kind hike! Try it out in your backyard, a nearby park, or other familiar area.

What You Need

  • bucket
  • rocks, sticks, and other natural objects such as pine cones
  • whistles (one per group, in case you split up or get lost)
  • Trail Making Guide (optional) 


What You Do

  1. Print out the “Make Your Own Trail” guide.
    If this is your first time laying out a trail, it might be helpful to print out our trail making guide. This is helpful both for the people laying out the trail, and the people who will follow it. You might slip the guide into a waterproof shell to protect it when you go outside, or pop it on a clipboard.
  2. Gather a bucket of rocks, sticks or other natural objects such as pine cones.
    Find a spot where the ground is not too littered with debris, such as a trail that already exists. You could just draw the markings in the dirt, if you have a trail with dry clear dirt. However, trail markers are fun to make because you can put them on paved trails. Also, if there is a light rain, the drawings might wash away, but the trail markers should stay clear.
  3. Here’s how you tell someone to go straight ahead.
    If you have sticks, make the sign from sticks. If you have rocks, make the sign from rocks. You don’t have to put both. These photos just show how the signs are different, depending on which materials you use.
  4. Here’s how to make trail markers for “turn right.”
    This one is quite easy to understand.
  5. Here’s how to show someone how to “turn left.”
  6. Here’s how to mark “wrong way” or “don’t go this way.”
    This is extra helpful if you come to a fork in the path, and you want to make it extra clear where they should look for their next trail marker.

Use stick or rock trail signs to explore outside with your friends. Here are some fun ideas to try:

  • Hide-and-Seek
    Divide into two groups: Trailblazers and Trackers. The Trailblazers lay a trail and hide at the end of it. About 15 minutes after the Trailblazers leave, the Trackers set off to follow their trail. When they find the Trailblazers, the groups switch roles.
  • Treasure Hunt
    Lay a trail and hide something special at the end for the Trackers to find.
  • Trail Home
    Mark your own trail when you go exploring. Then use it to help you find your way back.


  • Take at least one grownup along for each group.
  • Stay together with your group on marked trails.
  • Make sure each person is carrying a whistle.
  • If you do get separated, stay in one place and blow your whistle until someone comes to the rescue.