Finding your cardinal direction using a sun, stick, and rock

Feeling stir crazy inside my home, I needed to get out and get some sun. While I was out I noticed a stick on the ground and thought back to something I saw online before about using shadows to figure out North, East, South, and West. So I looked it up online and figured out the general principle and decided to put it to the test.

It’s supposed to be more accurate and quicker to tell directions if you have a 3-4 foot stick but I just used a 10 inch one. I stuck it in the ground so it was straight up and placed a rock at the tip of the shadow.


Waiting 15 minutes I looked again and the shadow moved to the side of the rock.


The rock marked West and the shadow moved to the East. Which makes sense because the sun rises in the East and sets in the West and the shadow will move opposite of this. Once you know West and East, you can figure out North and South as well. I compared it with two compasses that I had and it was accurate.

Not the fastest method of rough navigation, but if you were lost while hiking the 15 minutes it takes for the shadow to move is a good time to rest and think through what to do.


  • Comments (2)

    • 1

      I’ve never tried this either, but cool to see that it does in fact work! Hope you enjoyed the time outside learning a new skill.

    • 2

      It  is a cut technique, but what do you do when the sun is obscured?  Compass time!!