Designing an Elegant Trail Sign

When I first started making trail signs for the USFS, I was amazed to learn their rustic nature belies the fact there’s been a lot of knowledge gone into Federal design standards for these puppies.


Our first signs, for the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, were requested by a volunteer group, and we were all pretty “green” on some of the details.  Well, all of them.


In contrast, here’s a sign I always liked a lot and is a great example of a really good trail sign, except for one detail – this particular sign is a reject because of a manufacturing error.  EM-7100 specifies 2″ side margins, and I’d cut the sign off center by an inch.  :/  With the finished sign’s 1″ margins, this one got remade.


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