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The Kid Should See This

How are hiking trail signs made?

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“While I was hiking over the years, I’ve noticed that a lot of trail signs are missing, they’re old and you couldn’t read them anymore. And people I hiked with would often say, ‘You know, the Forest Service needs to put up some new trail signs.’

“And I found out it wasn’t that easy with the Forest Service because they’re pretty limited on their staff and they just don’t have the money to buy signs. So, I offered my services to help make them.”

Come for the feel-good volunteer story; stay to see how an old-fashioned router tool can carve each familiar-looking letter into the wood with precision.

table router
This Oregon Public Broadcasting video shares how Mount Adams Ranger Station volunteer Dan Finn handmakes traditional trail signs to help hikers find their way in Washington’s forests, watersheds, and mountains. From the video:

“Dan makes two kinds of signs, the iconic brown signs with the yellow lettering, and signs that are specific to designated wilderness areas. Over the past few years, Dan has made some 300 trail signs. They can be seen across the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.”

painting letters
Watch these related videos next:
Behind the Signs: A Look at the DOT Sign Shop
Road painters painting road markings by hand
• Sign Songs from PBS’ The Electric Company in the 1970s
How vintage-style signs are made at Nutmegger Workshop

Bonus: What are the secrets to designing great hiking trails?

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