Taking a walk through the woods is a perfect way to relax and unwind. It’s a moment to get in touch with nature and take some time for yourself. Breathing the crisp, clean air and taking in all of the beautiful surroundings — the different types of plants, trees, and flowers.
While hiking, you might have come across a tree that appears as if it’s been bent — what you might not know, is the fascinating history that surrounds it.
The American Forests organization aims at protecting and preserving our nation’s gorgeous forests. According to their website, there’s a special story behind these bent trees that are scattered across the country.Across the U.S., you can find trees that are oddly shaped. Their trunks have odd kinks in them.
“Across the U.S., you can find trees that are oddly shaped. Their trunks have odd kinks in them or bend at strange angles. While some of them may indeed be simple quirks of nature, most of these trees are actually landmarks that helped guide indigenous people on their way.”
The trees were bent and tied down to point in the direction of trails for Native Americans. The tree would continue to grow around the ties.
As mentioned earlier, not all bent trees are from this type of historic trail identification. There are a couple of ways you can tell a natural bending tree versus ones bent and used by Native Americans. A naturally bent tree is below.
Trees that were bent and used for trail markers will usually have a bit of a knob or a “nose” at the bottom of the bend. This is to help point to the proper direction; they’d cut off the end and stuff it with charred bark. Another telling sign that it is a trail marker tree is often times, you can see the markings or “cuts” from the straps that were holding the tree at a curve.
There are an estimated 1,000 bent trail marker trees all across the United States. Many are 150-200 years old.
In the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, there are quite a number of these bent trees. They all point toward Pikes Peak which is where the local Ute tribe believed to be sacred. Today, most people don’t even know what the trees mean.
The trees are so old that they won’t be around for much longer. Certain groups have been tracking the trees so people can find them and see them before they are no longer around. They are located in 39 of the 50 states.
The video below shows the remarkable bent trees growing in Georgia. Such an unknown, but amazing, piece of history.
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