Fake trail markers, colored red, have been found around Acadia National Park.
In this recent photo, splotches of red paint can be seen along a hiking trail in Acadia National Park on a tree on the left and on a rock cairn in the distance on the right. Park rangers are trying to find out who is responsible for the paint splotches, which it considers an act of vandalism. Credit: Courtesy of Acadia National Park

Vandals are leaving false markers along trails in Acadia National Park, which could lead hikers to follow unsanctioned and potentially dangerous routes along the park’s rugged terrain, according to park officials.

The National Park Service is trying to find out who spray-painted red splotches or blazes along the trails. The park uses blue paint — known as blue blazes — to mark trees or rocks along hiking trails so that visitors know which routes to follow to safely get to their destinations.

The red blazes have often been found next to existing blue places, said Amanda Pollock, spokesperson for the park.

“But some of the red blazes encourage people to go off trail. For example, there is one section on a fairly flat, broad slope along the South Ridge that a red blaze is leading people off the trail. There is already evidence of social trails in the park that follow the routes suggested by the vandalism,” Pollock said.

The problem has been cropping up since January on and around Penobscot Mountain on the Deer Brook, Penobscot East, Spring and South Ridge trails, park officials said. Approximately 100 red paint splotches have been found along two miles of the affected trails.

So far, park officials have no indication that the misleading markings have caused any hikers to get lost.

“The graffiti, primarily consisting of red blazes spray-painted on trees, rocks, and cairns, creates confusion for visitors,” park officials said.

Maintenance crews are removing the fake trail markers while park rangers investigate the vandalism. Anyone with information about the vandalism can submit an anonymous tip online or call 207-288-8791.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....