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Florida Trail: Blazing

Blazing is painting bright orange marks to guide hikers along a trail corridor. On the FTA 331 Trail Expansion, volunteers used two methods. One uses a paint brush and jar of paint.

Blaze Master

The other method uses a Blaze Master kit developed by Bob Deckert shown in this video on Vimeo.

For background and details with Bob Deckert see Blaze Master Origins see Vimeo.

Blazing the Florida Trail with a paintbrush

This video is the brush method. See it above, on Vimeo. Here is a description of the content.

In this video a team of three volunteers show and explain the process.

The Orange Blaze

Starting shot of hard hat painting blaze on tree in forest for quick topic ID. Continue zooming from blaze to blaze along the new trail.

Narration by Tom Daniel, VP of Trails, Florida Trail Association.

"How valuable is the orange blaze to the Florida Trail? Well, it's essential. It is the ribbon of breadcrumbs that guide and assures trail users they are on the Florida National Scenic Trail.

"The orange blaze is a Florida Trail trademark and its most visible symbol. We want everybody but especially Floridians to recognize this symbol and associate it with the the Florida Trail. Signage is important but it is the orange blaze a trail user sees a million times from Big Cypress to Ft. Pickens.

"This presentation is a demonstration of how one very skilled blazer applies the single blaze and double offset blazes. The content addresses some very basic blazing techniques. More comprehensive instructions are found in the FTA booklet Basic Trail Maintenance."

Visual Tools used in blazing

Where it is, who does it, and who it is for. Blaze on trail where volunteer blazers walk.
How it is done. Look for the tree to paint blaze on.
Gloved hand holds small paint jar. Other hand holds 2” paintbrush.
Check to align blaze with trail by looking back.
Size of blaze is 2” wide by 6” high. Matches the height of dollar bill.
Walk past the blaze and look down the trail where a team member stands by the farthest visible tree for the next blaze.
To clear the view, saw and lop vegetation that obscures a blaze.

"Blaze visibility is crucial. Once a tree is selected, it is fairly common for workers to clear vegetation for blaze visibility."

Prepare the surface using a draw knife or scraper to smooth the outer bark. Dust it off with gloved hand.
The blaze is about 5.5' up from the ground. Blazers know how that height fits their eye level.
Dip brush in paint and flip from side to side to remove excess paint.
Paint straight down, then up, fill in and square the corners of the blaze.
If paint drips, scraper trims the blaze, removing the excess.
If the trail turns, a double-blaze is placed about 10 steps before a hiker gets to the turn.
Making a double-blaze, the top is offset in the turn direction. The bottom blaze is aligned below and away from it.
After a double-blaze and the turn, place a single blaze nearby indicating the new trail corridor.
Turn around and blaze the opposite direction. Blazes may not be on the same trees.
It's all in the direction you are going, your vision, and what you can see there.
While looking at paint color and standard paint can information, we hear that usually three people makes a good blazing crew.

"Trail design and layout heavily impacts the frequency and overall number of blazes. A well-designed trail is easier to blaze and follow and discourages over-blazing."

Can label: Coronado. Rust Scat. Latex High Gloss Enamel. 80-139 OSHA Orange. One US. Gallon.
Central Paint
630 NW 13th St.
Gainesville, FL 32601

Credits: Anne Daniel, Scraping. Wallis Mayo Painting. Tom Daniel, Clearing, Caroling Videoing. © 2014

Thanks to consultants: Linda Patton, Robin Lugar, and Ron Peterson.

See a way to paint using the Blaze Master kit: and Blaze Master Origins:

This work was part of the FTA 331 Trail Expansion. This video is non-commercial and for educational purposes.

Back to Highway 331 Expansion Project.

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