Blue-blaze

To blue-blaze is to skip a section of the white-blazed AT by walking an alternative route.

Blue-blazing by necessity where the AT was washed out.  Photo by John Paul "West" Smith.

Blue-blazing by necessity where the AT was washed out. Photo by John Paul “West” Smith.

Common reasons for blue-blazing:

  • Avoiding hazardous conditions
  • Taking a scenic route to see a waterfall or overlook
  • Taking a shortcut to save time
  • Roadwalking on smoother terrain (especially common when the AT intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway in middle Virginia and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park)
  • To take the road less traveled (particularly on the Benton McKaye Trail in the Smoky Mountains)
  • For convenience when walking in and out of town or an off-trail shelter
  • Getting lost
Jones Falls is a short 0.1 mile blue-blaze off the AT. Photo by Whitney Alana

Jones Falls is a short 0.1 mile blue-blaze off the AT. Photo by Whitney Alana

Example: “I accidentally blue-blazed in New York and didn’t know it until the next day, when I intersected the AT again.”

Fun Fact: A “blaze” is a trail marker painted on a tree, rock, etc. The AT is marked with white blazes and most side trails branching off of it are marked with blue blazes (although any color can be used).

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