How to interpret the road signs and what do they tell us?

If we are passionate about hiking and walking through nature, then it is important that we know what the signs that we find on the roads mean. This offers valuable information about the route, which is also not trivial and will help us to know where we have to continue our walk.

As explained by the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation (Fedme @fedme_es) in its Trail Marking Manual, the existence of approved trails is intended to make it easier for users to practice hiking mainly in the natural environment, in conditions of safety, quality and sufficient information related to the activity to be carried out.

These trails are identified by a code of signals, as well as by a series of informational supports or panels in which they are given a set of details of the route in question. The types of approved trails are the following:

Great Tour (GR)

The colors that identify them are the red and the white, and its acronym is GR. Your tour must be formed at least 50 kilometers. So whenever we see a white horizontal line along the way and a red one underneath, it will be indicating that we are making a long route.

If these signs appear in the shape of a cross, it means that the path does not continue there, so we will have to follow the path marked on the ground or look for two horizontal lines that specify where we have to continue. To indicate a turn, these lines are painted vertically with a deviation to the right or left at the top, depending on where it should go.

Route sign

Short Tour (PR)

These roads, as their name indicates, are less extensive routes although there is a great variety, as they can cover between 10 and 50 kilometers. They are represented by the color white and yellow. Within these we can find variants that have to be marked with the corresponding codes. The destination points of the leads cannot be found more than two kilometers away of the PR trail from which it starts. This requirement must also be met by the GRs.

Local Trails (SL)

Local trails are represented with the white again and the green. These are the shortest because must not exceed ten kilometers. As in the previous cases, they may have derivations, but here their destination points must not be more than 0.5 kilometers from the point of the trail from which they leave.

More possibilities

Along the paths we can find variants, that is, roads of any range that start and converge at two different points on the same trail. Then there are the links, that is to say, they are those that join different approved trails with the same or different rank. Within these we find international links, that is, those that start from a route that begins in Spanish territory but that reaches another from a neighboring country such as France and Portugal. The referrals sometimes lead us to some scenic spot of interest such as a viewpoint or even a monument such as a church or hermitage.

Mountain trails

All the aforementioned routes can be classified as mountain trails if they meet a series of requirements. Some of them are that run above 1,500 meters, have a continuous unevenness of more than 500 meters or a cumulative one of more than 800 meters. In more than 50% of the way, you have to travel along a traditional path that does not present significant alterations and it cannot be done by asphalted or cement roads in more than 5% of the total route. In addition, they must pass through natural and / or rural areas, in which their traditional uses persist, among other conditions.

hiking routes galicia Devesa da Rogueira


The types of colored signs that we can see painted on different elements of nature such as stones or trees, are, on the one hand, those of continuity mark, which are represented by two parallel rectangles in a horizontal position. Then we have the wrong address, which are indicated with a cross or St. Andrew’s cross. And finally, those of change of address, two parallel strokes that deviate at an angle to specify which side to turn to, right or left.

Along with these indications that we will meet along the way, we can sometimes run into with pegs, which replace the markings on the ground when these cannot be made on it. Also sometimes we will see poles with directional arrows that are located at crossroads or strategic locations, offering diverse information such as the distance that remains to be traveled to reach a specific destination.

Also very important are Information panels for the start and end of the route. In these there is usually a map where the point where we are appears. We will also appreciate additional information about the traditional or cultural aspects that surround it, and elements related to its fauna and flora.