A compass is an important tool that is needed if you are hiking in the woods or desert. However, if you are stranded without a compass there are ways to know the direction. Following these simple tips will get you in the direction you need to go quickly.
Remembering which direction the sun rises and which direction the sun sets is one way to find direction. The sun always rises in the East and sets in the West, which means it will be East before noon and West after noon. The sun will be due south at exactly noon.
You can tell which direction you are going by using a watch. Take your watch off of your wrist or out of your pocket and point the hour hand towards the sun. The direction that is halfway between the hour hand and the number 12 on your watch is South.
Another way you can find direction when you are lost is the shadow trick. Simply place a stick straight up in the ground so you can see its shadow. Use a small object and place it on the very top of where the shadow is seen. A small rock or a leaf will work great. Wait about 20 minutes and the shadow will begin to move West. Again, mark the very tip of the shadow with an object and mark the sand or dirt with a W for West. Since you know that this mark is West, the first line is North. Draw straight lines vertically and horizontally to mark each direction. It is extremely important to label them so you dont forget.
Although finding direction by using the sun is the easiest, you can also tell direction late at night as long as you have a clear sky. First, find the Big Dipper in the sky. Follow the right edge of the Big Dipper (the ladle) 5 times its length and you will see the North Star, which of course means North. You can verify this by finding Cassiopeia, which is a W shaped constellation. It will look like an upside down W which also points to the North Star.