There are a lot of things you need to consider when hiking. Please prepare to avoid an uncomfortable experience or serious consequences. These articles will speak directly to those planning a multi-day end-to-end adventure. There may be something that can help you.

Nothing is worse than realizing you have hiked over a km in the wrong direction. It’s demoralizing and a little panic-inducing as you recognize that you have to course correct. Fortunately, with a few minor adjustments, you can avoid the worst of being turned around.

Preemptive Steps

You keener! Look at you taking steps to ensure you don’t get lost, and doing a few of these before your hike can make a big difference in your overall navigation. Make sure that you try to incorporate at least two of these strategies. It is always good to have a backup plan if one of your strategies fails.  

  • Carry an up-to-date map: BTC guidebooks are updated frequently, though trail changes always will happen. Check the website to ensure you know of any trail changes in your area. Bruce Trail Sections and Maps 
  • Bruce Trail App: This app shows you where you are along the trail in real-time. It is constantly updated with all new route changes. This app does not use data when determining your location. 
  • What Three Words: This app geolocates you to a particular space worldwide, much like a set of GPS coordinates would. This app is an excellent way to prepare for potential accidents before you are lost. 
  • Cell phone plan: Having a cell phone with at least a little data can help you find your way, even if you are lost or stuck.  
  • Leave an itinerary: This proactive step ensures that if you get lost, there is a ballpark estimate to start any search and rescue efforts.
  • Call your mother!: It doesn’t have to be your mother, but sending a message to a friend or family member goes a long way in calming their nerves and ensuring that you are ok when you either get back to a car or are at your accommodations for the night.
Bruce Trail App, Exceptionally easy to use

If you’re lost, How to get found

So you got lost. It’s alright; it happens to everyone at some point. But there are only a few differences between getting lost in the woods and the department store of your choice (IKEA). Knowing what you need to do now will undoubtedly help you in the future.

Check for blazes
Look for landmarks
Get friendly and ask for help
  • Stop where you are: Don’t double down on a wrong decision because “doing something is better than nothing.” Stopping and taking a moment is better than panicking and amplifying your confusion.
  • Ask yourself if you see anything familiar: observing your surroundings can help place you back on the trail. Be sure to not only look ahead of you but also behind for a blaze which can put you back on track
  • 20 ft check: Set your current location as a landmark to which you can return. Travel 20 ft in all directions from this marker to relocate the trail. Setting a tag before you start searching will mean you are less likely to walk deeper in the woods. 
  • Check your devices: Check your phone or any location apps for navigation support. Likely, a trail may not be marked on an app such as Google Maps (though it would be on the BTC app). You can find more significant landmarks on Google Maps, such as lakes, fields, hydro cuts, roads and road allowances. 
  • Get friendly: Asking for help is an easy way to get informal advice and point you where to go. Don’t let hubris be the reason you stay lost longer than you need to. 
  • Hunker down: if all else fails, it might be time to stay put and wait for rescue. It is unlikely that it may come to this on the Bruce Trail. Please refer to other resources when planning a more extended excursion where the possibility of getting lost is higher.

Happy Trails!

Aaron “Talus” Holden

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