I went this morning and took this picture of a Bended Trail Tree near my home in Murray County GA
There is a legend that tells of Native Americans using bended trail trees for many reasons…it just so happens that this legend is true. It has been passed down from generation to generation but the general story always stays the same. Many years ago the Native Americans navigated through the mountains using an elaborate system of trail markings. The way they marked the trail was by bending tree saplings (typically oak) along their trail to make them point in a certain direction. That direction could indicate food, water, safety, important meetings, etc. Many of these trees still exist here in North GA. It is really interesting to see these trees and I always wonder what they were bent to indicate.
These trail trees are almost a lost part of history, but Garden clubs and Historical Societies have documented many of them. The trees can be recognized by trunks or limbs which are bent almost at a right angle. The point of the bent limb is usually marked by a “nose” (a prominent bump made by cutting the bark and packing it with moss or charred bark). Some of the trees point to a creek or cave, or even to buried treasure (though these treasure troves are usually found empty today). It is said that the knot on the end of the angle where the trees were bent were hollowed out to hold “treasures” or that the roots were exposed to hide treasure under the roots and then re-buried.
I find this an amazing part of history that is little known…especially since there are so many “trail trees” around the area in which I live. They are called by many different names: Prayer Trees, Signal Trees, Warning Trees, Casual Trees, etc. To find many of them you might need to wear an overshoe to keep from getting your feet wet, but they are worth hunting for.
I have a friend who gave me quite the education on Trail Trees, but in her family they were often referred to as Prayer Trees. The reason for this was due to the fact that more often than not her mother could be found in the woods on bended knee, hands folded over a bent tree in prayer. She was a Prayer Warrior and it was well know that if she was in the woods praying, she was not to be disturbed, it was a serious matter than needed serious attention. She would spend hours at that old tree and while it no longer held treasures of the material kind, many felt that old bent tree held treasures from heaven prayed down by a prayer warrior. It just so happened that she was also of Native American decent and knew just what kind of power those bent trees held.
So, the next time you see a bent tree…stop and take a moment to imagine why that tree was bent in the first place, and wonder if it ever held a treasure or was simply used as a directional device.