For thousands of years people have piled rocks to mark trails so they would be able to find their way and not get lost.  These stacks of rocks are called cairns and are found worldwide, including Ocean Point!  A cairn is defined as a human-made stack of rocks.cairns

If you want to build a cairn, find an open area away from plant growth.  Pile your stones as high as possible for the best visibility.  Your cairn needs to be stable so fill in with small stones as needed.

Be sure to build your cairn only in an appropriate area that will not damage the ecosystem.  At Ocean Point you will see them built on the granite ledges along the shore.  They are often made stable and balanced with sand granules from the shore.  All of the pictures on this post are of cairns at Ocean Point.cairn3

In addition to trail markers,  cairns are built for burial monuments, ceremonial purposes, hunting, etc.  They range in size from small stone markers to artificial hills.  An ancient cairn style found from Alaska to Greenland is the inuksuk used by the people of the Arctic Region.  This tundra area had few natural landmarks.

Coastal cairns, also known as “sea marks,” are found in Scandinavia and the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada.  These coastal cairns even appear on navigational charts.  Sometimes they are lighted or painted white for better visibility from ships.

Some people are offended by cairns.  David Williams, the author of Cairns, was a ranger in Arches National Park.  Visitors built many cairns here, but none of these were legal and some led to environmental damage and lost hikers.  A fellow ranger in Acadia National Park describes taking down cairns all over the park.  Hikers no longer see the natural landscape because of the cairns.cairn4

The cairn craze has exploded into wilderness areas.  Moving rocks increases erosion.  Every time a rock is moved a potential home for insects and mammals is lost.

Here at Ocean Point when the cairns are built the winter storms usually wash them off and Mother Nature creates a new landscape.  To build cairns or not is something to think about?

Your friends at Ocean Point Inn Find us on Facebook