How to Find North without a Compass

If You Are Lost in the Woods, What Offers the Most Ways to Find True North?

  • Trees
  • Animals
  • Dirt
  • TEST
  • Leaves

Answer: Trees

There are several ways to find north, and, if you know just a bit about astronomy and the sky is clear, you can use the stars or even the clouds to find north. However, the sky isn’t always clear… even if you do know what to look for. So just look to the trees and remember a few simple concepts. They all boil down to the fact that in the northern hemisphere, the north side of trees is usually cooler and damper than any other side — and nature responds to this fact.

Using Trees to Find North

Look for moss on the north side of trees. However, if you use this method, use it with another one as well, because shade from other trees can also cause the moss to move to a cooler place. But, that one tree sitting off by itself with plenty of sunlight and moss on one side? If it’s in the northern hemisphere, the mossy side is north.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Branches and other plant life will “follow” the sun, which also means that new growth responds to it. Because of this, the north side of a tree often has fewer branches than the south side.


Although you probably don’t have any urge to get close to them, both ant hills and spider webs can be found on the south sides of trees.

If there aren’t any trees around and you’re lost, look to other features in the area. Water runs north to south and the clouds move west to east. Keep in mind that if you know which way one direction is, you know which way they all are. If you have trouble remembering, just go clockwise starting with north, and remember “Never Eat Sour Wheat.”