Mysterious bent trees are actually Native American trail markers

Next time you go hiking through the forest keep an eye out for some pretty strangely-shaped trees. These trees are quite unique in that they bend in very unnatural angles. Sure, some trees are just weirdly-shaped, but there’s something special about these bent trees.

Native Americans would bend trees in order to create trail markers that formed an early routing system, which served multiple purposes. From indicating that water and food was nearby, to warning travelers of rough country ahead, these landmarks were important features in navigating the early Americas.

All across the country you can find bent trees that were used by Native American tribes to serve as permanent trail markers. Mountain Stewards have compiled a large database that includes over a thousand bent trees in 39 states. You can help out too. If you happen to run across a bent tree, snap a pic, note its location and shoot it over to Mountain Stewards.

These trees represent an important part of Native American history and many groups are currently working to help protect them.

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