BLAZEOLOGY


Typical blazes

Most of the trails over and around Little Monadnock and Gap Mountain are blazed. Blazes are markers painted or nailed to trees, or painted on rocks. For the Metacomet Monadnock Trail, these blazes are always white and roughly one and a half by four inches. Other trails may be other colors.
Important things to remember:

  1. When hiking, follow the blazes. Learn More

  2. Double blazes mean a turning in the trail. Learn More

  3. If you get lost, stop and think what to do before you move. Learn More

  4. When you reach a summit, remember how how you got there. Learn More

More details on these points are as follows:

Keep Looking for Blazes
When hiking, even on a well worn trailway, it is a good idea to keep the blazes in mind and continually check to make sure at least one of them is in view. If you are hiking with children, let them look for the blazes. Besides being a fun exercise, it teaches them how to follow a trail. Also, if you are with a group and not first in line, still keep an eye out for the blazes (don't assume that the leader knows the way.)

Double Blazes
If you see a double blaze on a tree (one above the other) it indicates a trail junction or turning immediately ahead. You should take care to make sure you find the blazed trail. (For example, if a trail is following a woods road, a double blaze will probably indicate that the trail is about to turn off the road into the woods.)

If You Get Lost
First of all, when hiking on Gap Mountain or Little Monadnock, there is almost no chance of your getting lost in the sense that you will have to spend a night in the woods. Most of the people who lose their way take a wrong turning of off the blazed trail and onto an unblazed trail or woods road. Usually this happens because they are following the footpath and not checking for blazes. Unfortunately, some hikers may go for some distance before they realize they are not getting to their destination. They then have to retrace their steps to where they can pick up the correct trail.

If you lose sight of the blazes
If you always try to keep one or more blazes in view, there is little chance of your taking a wrong turning. If you do reach a point where you cannot see a blaze, stop immediately. Then turn around and see if there are blazes you can see behind you. If you do see such blazes, then turn back and try to find the next blaze by following the worn footpath. Chances are you'll see one just ahead.

If you don't see a blaze behind you, and you are on a well worn footpath or road, follow it back until you see blazes. If you don't see a worn footpath, then you may have wandered off the trail. You should start searching back the way you came, but you might want to mark the spot you are in (e.g., by tying a colored hankerchief to a bush) so you can find the exact spot where you lost the trail. Then search around that area for blazes or a footpath.

When you reach the top
When you reach the open summit of a mountain, stop and look back so that you know your return route. Many of the "lost" people we have met turn out to have taken the wrong trail down from a summit and ended up miles from their car. The shortest way back to their car may involve climbing back over the mountain. Also, if you take a side trip from a summit before returning, note a landmark or two on the summit so you will know where to look for the return trail. This advice is particularly important for Mt. Monadnock where at least 6 trails converge on the summit.