You're enjoying a peaceful hike in the woods surrounded by lush greenery including a lone tree with a red marking spray painted on its trunk.

It's easy to dismiss as the work of vandals (ugh, why can't everyone enjoy the woods like you?!?), but the paint might be a more serious sign that you need to know before hiking any further down the trail.

What To Do When You See Red Paint On A Tree

You'll want to review the tree-marking symbols from the U.S. Forrest Service before your next trip into the woods. There is an entire color-coded system that is supposed to be used for marking trees.

Some of the colors are fairly harmless to recreational hikers. A blue and yellow marking, for example, means the tree is slated to be cut.

Some of the colors have rather serious consequences if you are not familiar with the system. says the color red signifies the tree is on land that belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. In other words, you're somewhere you shouldn't be and you need to leave FAST!

The report explains the marking is used as a warning to prevent timber theft.

Purple paint on the trunk of a tree

Purple Paint On A Tree Is Just As Serious

Right up there with the color red in terms of seriousness for hikers is purple.

Several states, including Illinois, Montana, Idaho and Texas, have enacted a "purple paint law." This allows landowners to use purple paint to show the property is private.

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The idea is the paint is a better and more permanent option than signs to ward off potential trespassers.

Again, not every state uses purple paint. Check the list of purple paint law states before your next hike or hunting trip.

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