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  1. #1
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    Creating Trail Maps

    I am looking at creating a trail map to be posted at the main Kiosk to the trail system. I have things pretty well GPS'd out, but wonder what software/freeware is out there to create a map with topo, add trail info., etc. Posted map would be about 20"x20" or so.

  2. #2
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    For quick and dirty (and free) maps, you can use google earth to overlay your GPS route with a satellite photo. Depending on your area though, you may not have a good resolution photo, which makes for a very poor map. After saving the image as a .jpg, you can import it and edit it in pretty much any program (Adobe, Word, Corel Draw, etc).

    Ideally if you can find somebody with a copy of ArcGIS, that would be your best best.

    If you ask me nicely, I may do it for a small fee.

  3. #3
    Masher
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    I did this for our local state park. In addition to the kiosk map, I created individual intersection maps for each of the 80+ trail intersections, with 'you are here' arrows and a corner inset map showing the intersection detail... I used DeLorme's TOPO USA product because it came with my PN-20, worked great. The inset details were a challenge, but I just made a jpg image of the zoomed in intersection and edited each with a photo editor, and then imported the image.
    At each intersection we placed a waterproof placard with the intersection map in it, oriented to north so the trails lined up in the detailed inset, then there was no need for additional signage along the trails. Cheap, and easy to update.

    here is a link to the map of the entire east side of the trail system for reference: http://www.bradburytwelve.com/trailmap_eastside.pdf

    PM me for more info!

  4. #4
    JmZ
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    Do a search on GIMP Shop if you want something that'll do some Photo-shop type editing. And it's free.

    I've used Illustrator and Photoshop on maps - they were the tools I had. Little bro is a GIS person (who's looking for work btw - any leads ) and said I should play with the Arc GIS instead - but the other turned out ok - will post up an example after shrinking it later...

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  5. #5
    JmZ
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    Found the pic

    About 2 years old or so. Look at it now and already see what I could do better. Isn't that always the way it works?

    It's for a small city park (40 Acres) in South Bend. Biggest change in elevation is about 30 feet - so topos not as much use here.

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    JmZ

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  6. #6
    zrm
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    I use a program called Terrain Navigator pro. It's pretty easy to download tracks from your GPS onto a topo map. At $350 it's probably more expensive than Topo, but it does a lot of other things that I use for work that you might not need.

  7. #7
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    Materials:
    Topo map of area with a map scale
    Compass (one to navigate with)
    Compass (to draw angles)
    Engineer scale
    200ft tape
    Patience

    Start from a known location on the map you have(one you can stand next to). Shoot a bearing with the compass(navigation) till the trail turns. Mark how many feet it is till that next turn(bearing) with the 200ft tape. Shoot another bearing to next turn in trail and continue.
    Take notes of distances and corresponding bearings. Map it out with the engineer scale and compass(angles), on the map. Pretty cheap this way. Not to accurate without experience though. Probably be better of spending money on GPS stuff.

    Note: If ground ranges a lot in elevation then this method will not be accurate unless you find the horizontal distance, because the lengths will be is slope distance. Topo maps are in horizontal distances
    Take a kid Hunting!

  8. #8
    Masher
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    He said he already has the GPS data...
    Myself? I'd rather start the GPS on the handlebar and ride my arse off than spend many, many, many hours collecting data the way you've suggested, but to each their own!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishbum
    He said he already has the GPS data...
    Myself? I'd rather start the GPS on the handlebar and ride my arse off than spend many, many, many hours collecting data the way you've suggested, but to each their own!
    Man I have to start readying entire posts before I come up with some smart@$$ relpy, thanks.
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  10. #10
    Masher
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    I've never done that myself, honest!

  11. #11
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    If you wanted to try the GIS route you can look into ArcGIS explorer. It is downloadable for free here: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/explorer/index.html . I can't tell you much about the tools that would be available to create a custom map, because I use the full version of ArcGIS.

  12. #12
    The Voice of Reason
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    the gps linework usually looks like crap (imho). i did mine in photoshop elements and they turned out ok. i gps'd the trail and then did a screen capture of the downloaded data and stuck it in photoshop. then i traced over it with a nice line and added some color and filters to it to give it some depth. i deleted the gps line work (keeping the trace). then i got a screen capture from the google earth location and made it a layer in photoshop. then i adjusted the photoshop trail onto the google earth map. text was easy to use. they turned out suprisingly nice even though i have weak photoshop skillz. photoshop elements was about $100 but i'm sure it could be found elsewhere for free.
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  13. #13
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    Great info guys. Fishbum I saw your map work last year on a trip to Bradbury...great work. I will look into some of the information given and let you know the results.

  14. #14
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    i don't know where you're located but at swayback (montgomery, al) they did a great job with their maps. i think they were done professionally and it shows.
    I'm never gonna be a Rock Star

  15. #15
    Masher
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    Hey - thanks for the kudo's, one of the reasons I did that project was the park had expanded so much and I kept getting lost, along with everyone else.

    Mega - I agree with you, the GPS tracks look like crap if they are too well defined... One thing I discovered very quickly when collecting the data (imho) is that it really doesn't matter exactly how may turns the trail takes, or where it loops... the most important thing is where (precisely) the trail intersections are and how long the trail segment is. So I too simplified some of the GPS tracks to smooth them out to make the map more readable. If you wanted the track data to transfer to your GPS, however, I'd say use all the data available.

  16. #16
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    yeah. like a schematic of the trail. i think they're called quickmaps.
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  17. #17
    saddlemeat
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    Here's my workflow...

    I start by importing the gps track into All Topo Maps and displaying it on a USGS 1:28,000 quad map.

    Export the track and topo map as a tiff image file, then open in Photoshop (any version).

    Trace the trail track on a new layer with a 5 to 9 pixel brush. I use a 12 x 12 Wacom graphics tablet. While tracing the track I simplify it a bit.

    Drag the traced layer onto the master template. I produce intersection map/signs by changing the intersection name, location arrow, and what ever else, then "save as" a copy, name the file appropriatly. We don't put topographical info on the our map signs.

    The files are output to Fossil Industries, normally a tiff file in CMYK color space, layers intact.
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  18. #18
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    I'm in the process of mapping my local trails, too. Hopefully the end product will get translated into kiosk images, but mostly it'll be intended for printing off at home or downloading into your GPS. I printed off a large format version of this map for some trail work days. It really worked out well for us.

    I'm overlaying multiple GPS tracks from the same segment of trail and hand-drawing an average for those tracks. The end result looks smoother and it's within a couple feet of the actual trail location.

    I'm using ArcGIS 8.1 for it (old version I got as an undergrad...I'll upgrade again once I get into grad school and I can get a student discount). If you want some decent GIS software without spending more on the software than you did on your PC, look into Quantum GIS (QGIS). It's free, open source software available on Windows, Linux, OSX, etc. It's not quite as good as ArcGIS, but it does do some nice things.
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  19. #19
    I need skills
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    i've done the compass thing.

    I wanted to blaze a shortcut. Using my compass, odometer and graph paper I was able to map this particular logging road. I was very surprised how accurate it turned out to be.

    I had the trail mapped, chose my shortcut spot, took a bearing, bushwacked through the woods and came out about 30 feet from from my goal.

    I bought a gps a week later.

  20. #20
    IMBA Canada
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    Hey there biggears!

    I've dropped you an e-mail but in case you see this first, i'll gladdly help you out with the map... I don't know if you're talking about Waterbury... but i'll help out! That's actually what i do for ADSVMQ... I build all the maps needed... If you can find a nice detailed topo map to use as a base map and good GPS info, i'll have something strong to work with.

    I've already made a 5min map of the trail system, you can check it out:
    http://www.allezy.net/rep_sentiers/sentier.php?ID=121
    Look on the right, you'll see a map called: "Carte 2007"... It was a really basic sketch that i drew over a GPS tracklog... took 5mins... but for an official map, we'd be able to do something real nice!

    Let me know,


    Eric
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

  21. #21
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    Thanks for the info Eric. We have a local guy who makes maps that I am working with. If I need some further help I will let you know.

    Keep the weekend of July 11-13 open. We are thinking of having a little festival in Waterbury. May even put together a big ride up through Stowe. Still working on the details.

  22. #22
    Lets RIDE!
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    Take a look at the "Topo 7.0" software from deLorme. (they're on the web) Very easy to overlay your GPS tracks onto a topographic map (or onto aerial photos....the software comes with a voucher for some free imagery downloads). Then you can alter the track lines (width, color), add text, symbols, etc., then convert to a .jpg or .bmp file and print it.

    I bought deLorme's GPS last fall and started mapping the local trail network here. Just for my own amusement mostly. I've only mapped a few of the trails so far. Here's a sample of what can be done with this software.
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  23. #23
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    I use ACAD. You have an unlimited amout of options with it. So you can do anything you want and need to the maps, including printing to any scale. Here's a generic version of my map.
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  24. #24
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    :shudders at mention of autocad for GIS:

    There are better options, bro! Now granted if you have it for other reasons, it's useful. But trust me, GIS-specific software is better, my friend.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    Now granted if you have it for other reasons, it's useful.
    Exactly! I never said it was the BEST. I have it for work and it works great for it. If we ever go to a GIS system here then I am sure I will start using it but for now this is what I have to work with. Besides it does all that I need.

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