Cairn building can be a surprisingly meditative practice that brings you closer to your community and the earth. It’s a great way for you to get your mind off of the everyday and focus more on balance and permanence.

Throughout history, cairns were used by different cultures for a wide range of purposes. They may have served to indicate a route to follow, to indicate the location of food, or to warn about danger. In North America Native Americans also made cairns to serve as burial places, a tradition known as inukshuk.

The word “cairn”, which is derived from Gaelic, means “heap or pile of stones”. These are usually built to look like a hill. They can be small rock sculptures or large man-made stones hills.

Hikers, in particular, have a long and varied use for cairns. They can guide hikers home after a long day’s hiking, or help them navigate in remote areas.

A well-placed cairn can save lives and can help guide a group of hikers who are lost or have difficulty locating their trail path. Some people claim that cairns do not belong in the environment and violate Leave No Trace principles.