What Are “Widowmaker” Trees?

August 2, 2023

If you find yourself in an area where branches fall from above, you could be in danger. Widowmakers — a forestry term recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — are dead or broken branches caught high in the treetops, ready to fall at any moment.

Widowmakers happen in pine trees, cedars, and more, and they easily ruin your fun trip. No matter what you’re doing in the woods, it’s essential to watch out for these situations to prevent injury, property damage, or death.

How to Identify Widowmaker Trees?

Whether strolling down a hiking trail or spending nights beneath the stars, keep an eye on the trees above. Search the treetops for hanging or loose branches and check for any dead trees in the area. Widowmakers tend to lie across the canopy, so you may find breaks or disruptions in the natural pattern of the treetops.

How to Avoid Widowmaker Trees?

Whether tent camping or hammocking, widowmakers are dangerous trees that can harm your outdoor adventure. Consider these tips to stay safe and keep your distance from widowmakers:

  • Take your time scouting the ideal campsite.
  • Refrain from setting up camp beneath tall, dead, or suspect trees.
  • Check for suspended branches above.
  • Steer clear of camping under tall trees during intense wind storms, snowstorms, or ice storms.
  • Stay away from tree-covered slopes, which are known to have weaker roots.
  • Do not secure your hammock gear to a dead or suspect tree.

What to Do if You Encounter Widowmaker Trees

If you notice broken or dead branches above your site, the best thing to do is get up and leave. These branches and trees can come down at any moment, so it’s wise to avoid camping beneath them.

If one of these trees happens to be on your property, you should take the necessary steps to cut or safely pull the widowmaker tree down. You can also call a professional who will help you remove it from your property.

Shop Your Camping Supplies at DutchWare

At DutchWare, we bring you the knowledge and tools you need to stay safe and comfortable while in the wilderness. If you’re looking for durable equipment and tools to make your next camping adventure a success, check out our selection of hammocks and camping equipment. Shop with us today!



Reviewed By: Dutch (Thom Ressler) - Dutch started Dutchware after thru-hiking the entire 2,200-miles of the Appalachian Trail with a hammock. During his journey, Dutch learned that there wasn’t high-quality hammocking gear available on the market so he began to create his own.

He began manufacturing the Dutch Clip, which he invented to connect the webbing suspension around the tree. Next was the Chameleon Hammock which offers superior flexibility for hammockers. Today Dutchware sells over 1,000 outdoor gear products to provide backpackers with high-quality equipment that allows them to enjoy the outdoors with a minimalist approach.

Dutch is passionate about providing the hammocking community with the highest quality gear along with the highest quality information to ensure they have the best outdoor experience possible.

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