What Are Cairns? - Oro Valley Real Estate
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Have you wondered what those odd stacks of stones you see are along a hiking path, or maybe visible on your morning walk in the neighborhood? The Southwest landscape is littered with them.
These stacked stones are known as cairns, and sometimes they serve a purpose, but often they don't! Useful cairns that have been purposely placed, help guide nature-goers along not-so-well-defined trails, guiding them safely and creating minimal disruption to the natural environment. While these landmark symbols started with good intentions, more and more little stone circles and stacks have sprung up, some may be artistic, but not helpful in navigation.
While being in nature can bring out the artist in all of us, ideally cairn creation should be left up to park rangers, trail maintenance volunteers, or trail creators as placing one in the wrong spot can point hikers in the wrong direction or misrepresent the trail. Also, hikers should follow the Leave No Trace principle, and this extends beyond just trash. Leaving no trace is a respect to the natural environment, and also isn't a reminder for the next visitor that you were there.