I posted an answer for a recent question about a forest fire that started after your hike began, that said:

Presumably you registered at the trailhead, and you have a friend who knows where you are. There should be aircraft in the area soon attempting to identify your location and risk level. Source

A comment was posted in response

The trailhead registry will probably burn in a forest fire. source

In my experience the trailhead registry is usually elevated on posts in a mostly cleared area. The paper register form is inside a closed boxed, that should protect it from the rain and any fire.

I assume that in the event of a new forest fire, the forest rangers would check all the trailhead registries in the area to assess for hikers at risk.

Googling images found mostly what I expected. I searched and did not find any thing one way or the other about what the likelihood of the registry burning before the rangers had a chance to retrieve it.

NOTE: In many cases hiker must register at the ranger station, or through some other means (electronic). This question is only about paper registry at the trailhead location.

  • I don't think this is a question that can be answered. It could go either way depending on the context. Heavily forested trailhead, yes, wide bare ground for hundreds of meters, no.
    – Gabriel
    Aug 10, 2018 at 13:26
  • 1
    @GabrielC. Unless we can find documentation of stated policy to design trailhead registries to survive a fire.
    – gerrit
    Aug 10, 2018 at 13:33
  • The question is really broad. In eastern Canada/USA, they are under the forest canopy. If the forest burns, they'll burn. As far as I've seen in the field, there is no design policy. Just think about it. It would be ridiculous to clear cut a forest patch just to build a register. And I have yet to see an all-metal, fireproof register.
    – Gabriel
    Aug 10, 2018 at 13:39
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    There's a further risk that trailheads are somewhere where fires are quite likely to start as they attract humans, and not necessarily careful humans (so discarded glass, cigarette ends...). If a fire starts at a trailhead there won't exactly be a lot of time to take a register away (assuming it's vaguely portable)
    – Chris H
    Aug 10, 2018 at 15:25
  • 2
    While they would normally burn they are by definition reachable by road--I would expect them to be checked before they burned unless the fire started right near them. Aug 10, 2018 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


They probably will burn, see this one for example,

(source: 14ers.com)

Image Source

Also wood has a higher ignition temperature.

Sometimes they are in metal boxes on metal posts, but quite often they are wood or metal boxes on top of wood posts.


  • They don't always have paper.

  • The paper doesn't always have space for new entries.

  • People forget to sign them.

  • People forget to mark that they are out of the woods.

  • People enter at one trailhead and leave by another.

So all in all, they are not a perfect source of information on who is in the woods.


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