Rangers warn National Park graffiti could throw hikers off the trail

Red heart spray painted on rock
(Image credit: Getty)

Rangers are investigating a surge of vandalism at Acadia National Park, Maine, which could potentially lead hikers in the wrong direction.

In a statement, the National Park Service (NPS) said that the damage was done on the Spring, South Ridge Penobscot, Penobscot East and Deer Brook hiking trails, and mostly consists of red blazes sprayed onto trees, rocks, and cairns, which could lead visitors in the wrong direction.

In a worst case scenario, visitors who aren't familiar with the park could even be led off-train on a dangerous route. Hikers are advised to ignore any red painted marks, and only follow blue blazes that mark official trails.

If you know anything about the graffiti, or have seen anyone acting suspiciously, you can submit an anonymous tip online, or call 207-288-8791.

Removing graffiti

Park staff are working hard to remove the paint, but it's not a straightforward process. Using chemical solvents can damage the delicate ecosystem, while sandblasting rocks removes paint, but also causes erosion. This affects not just the surface, which is likely a habitat for various plants and insects, but also the underlayer, which may contain micro-fossils.

Last year, Rangers noted an uptick in graffiti at Yosemite National Park, with over 30 sites vandalized with spray paint in the space of a month. Blue and white paint were used to mark boulders on the Yosemite Falls Trail, with the largest tags measuring over 8ft wide.

"In the cracks of the rock, there’s lichen, there’s plant life that lives, there’s tree roots, so we have to be concerned about that," said National Park spokesperson Scott Gediman at the time. "Also there’s wildlife – if we put these toxic chemicals on and for example, a deer licks it."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.