How Not to Get Lost in the Forest

Loma Mar Propety
Learn some quick tips to not get lost in the forest.

Spring and summer are popular times to visit the redwood forest. Are you prepared to find your way around?

I thought I was, but I got lost. It was one of the few times I’ve been lost in my decades of hiking and camping.

A group of coworkers and I were visiting a redwood forest on private property for the day. A photographer and I left the group to take photos. We said we’d wait for them at a meeting point. After our task, we waited at the meeting point for a long time. They didn’t show up. We traced our steps back to a stream crossing where we knew they would have to pass if they were looking for us. They still didn’t show up.

It was getting late, so we left. I didn’t have a map, because I was relying on following the group back. This forest lacks directional signage because it’s private property. I couldn’t call my group, because we were in a remote area without cell phone reception.

I was still receiving a satellite signal on my phone’s map application, so we knew roughly which direction to go to reach the adjacent park’s visitor center. We figured we could call somebody to pick us up there.

After trudging for four long hours in the heat, we reached a park road, where someone from our group found us. He had guessed which way we were heading. Turns out we were waiting for the group at a stream crossing that looked just like the location we passed on the way in with the group.

Here’s how you can avoid a similar fate:

  • Realize that you can get lost easily out there. Many parts of a forest look alike.
  • Stay with your group.
  • Bring a paper map. Don’t rely on following others. Don’t rely on your cell phone—you may not have reception.
  • Bring a whistle. If you get lost or disoriented, blow it to help people find you.
  • Tell people at your home or office where you are going, the trail you’ll take, and when you expect to be back. If you don’t return on time, they’ll know where to look for you.

Now you’re set for the redwood forest! Don’t let fear of getting lost keep you from venturing out — just be prepared. Check out our map for trip ideas.

What are your tips for not getting lost? Share them below!

About the author

Jennifer Charney, Senior Manager of Marketing Communications, leads the production of many Save the Redwoods League publications. She brings a lifelong love of nature to her role.

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