Trail Marker Trees – What and Where Are They

Robert and Barbara Reeser have some special trees on their property. They live in the Dos Lagos subdivision in Dripping Springs. It’s a small community with a lot of beautiful, old trees. Mr. Reeser told us that he’s trees were estimated to be between 200 – 300 years old and that they are trail marker trees. They have about 3-4 of them on the property and Mr. Reeser likes to keep them pruned so he can fit his lawnmower underneath them.

What are Trail Marker Trees?

According to Mr. Reeser, Native Americans would take a young sapling tree and stake it to the ground. They’d bend it in the direction that they’d walk to find water so that other generations or tribe members would know which way to go. They were kind of like the first highway signs.  Over the years, the trees would grow bent.

What’s the official word on Trail Marker Trees?

Well, it’s true. Native Americans would bend trees in order to create trail markers that formed an early routing system. It served multiple purposes. Some trees would indicate that water and food was nearby. Others would warn travelers of rough country ahead. In fact, these landmarks were important features in navigating the early Americas.

What’s happened to these trees?

Well, many of them, like the ones in Dripping Springs, have survived centuries. They have grown in odd shapes. Many groups are working together to make sure that trail trees are being identified and protected for the history they represent. The Reesers had the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition identify their trees.

Where can you find these trees?

Well, just about anywhere across the United States. They can be hiding out in parks, on mountain trails or even in local neighborhoods. If you see a strangely-bent tree, you may want to report it to one of the groups working on logging these for posterity.

We want to thank the Reesers for their information on Trail Marker Trees and for sharing it with us. If you suspect you have a trail marker tree on your property, you can contact We would love to see pictures of these trees on our Facebook page. Feel free to post them there.  If you need us to take care of your trees, don’t hesitate to call us at 512-341-8888. Thank you.