Cairn making is a surprisingly meditative activity that can bring you closer to the earth and your community. You can make a traditional rock pile or a creative stack to help you focus on balance, permanence and harmony.

Throughout history, different cultures have used cairns in many ways. They may have been used to mark out a route, to indicate food sources, or to warn people of danger. In North America, cairns were also made to serve as burial sites for Native American peoples, a practice known as inukshuk (the plural is inuksuit).

The word cairn derives from a Gaelic word that means « heaps or heaps of stones ». It is usually built as a hill. They range in size from small rock sculptures to large man-made hills of stone, some of which are comparable to kistvaens and dolmens but built of stone rather than ephemeral earthworks.

Hikers, in particular, have a long and varied use for cairns. Cairns help hikers find their way back to the trailhead, after a hard day of hiking.

A well-placed, properly-marked cairn may save lives by guiding a group of lost hikers. Some people claim that cairns do not belong in the environment and violate Leave No Trace principles.