The American Sociologist

, Volume 42, Issue 2–3, pp 249–260 | Cite as

Constructing the Nature Experience: A Semiotic Examination of Signs on the Trail



This paper is an exploratory examination of the role of signs perceived along nature trails in parks and wooded settings and the ways in which they shape the nature experience for individuals. Literature was examined to define what it means to experience nature, the values and meanings people place on nature, hikers’ expectations, and tourism and park management practices. Sign objects, their underlying meanings, and the interpretation of signs along the trail were examined in the context of the existing theory based on semiotics, particularly the work of Peirce. Through a series of hikes, we found that signs contribute to the satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and meaning making in outdoor environments. Areas for further investigation are discussed.


Human-nature interaction Nature trails Nature mediation Social construction of nature Signs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural Resources, 320C Kottman HallThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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