It's forest stroll season and paint colors on trees might have a specific meaning.

Often, when we see paint on trees it's for some kind of project. I never pay much attention to it, especially if it's in the city but it looks kinda weird if it's smack in the middle of a park trail or forest preserve.

But the U.S. Forest Service has agreed upon certain colors and designs to carry different meanings and there are a few you need to know before you go on a lot of hikes this summer.

We know purple paint on trees means that you are trespassing and to get your keister off of the land. Another color you need to watch closely for is white, specifically white circles.

What White Paint On Trees Means

White paint on trees means two different things. If it's most of the trunk covered in paint like the pic below, it's probably a sunshield to help curtail any sun damage to the tree.

Family Handyman/Getty Images
Family Handyman/Getty Images

But if it's a white circle, either around the tree or just on one side of it, it's a sign to be careful around the tree.


A white circle on the tree means that an endangered animal or bird lives in the tree.

The thing to remember with that is that multiple endangered species in Illinois are in fact poisonous or venomous. The Illinois DNR considers multiple snakes, birds, and even scorpions (which, yes they do live in trees) to be endangered in the state.

Obviously not every white circle-marked tree means a snake will drop off and bite you. It could be a beautiful butterfly colony up there. But I'm probably not going to hang around long to find out.

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Gallery Credit: Canva

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