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  1. #1
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    Map design and planning

    Looks like we are very close to planning our first map and putting it into production!!!
    We've got tons of GIS data which hopefully will help. Our trail system is mainly on park land, and a couple of private parcels that we are certain to have permission to be on. We've got a mix of downhill freeride stuff, circled by XC stuff. We've got $2000 for carsonite trail markers sitting in the bank. We have to figure out placement of these markers as part of the map plan.

    What I want is some advice on mistakes not to make, mostly. Or things to think about that might not be obvious. We have tons of samples from other areas, too.

    The whole system I posted to the parcel thread, however until we get our permissions lined up we are thinking to just do the east half of the system. Also, perhaps do the highly concentrated area blown up as one side, and the larger part of the system on the other.

    Here's what we are working witf essentially the east half of the system. This is a FIRST draft of the ablility levels I did real quick last night. It's no where near a finished product, I just wanted to see if I could get the ablity levels to show.

    It's followed by an image of our whole system that i was talking about in the parcel thread.
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  2. #2
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    Also, how do you guys handle trail naming and rating? We know for a fact that people have lots of different names for the same thing. The main guy I am working with has built a good portion of the singletrack up there, I figure he's got a right to the names We are confidnent that no matter what names we use, someone somewhere will get PO'd about it.

    Also, ability ratings. We are thinking about this in two ways. One, is like a ski area, relative to the other trails. Problem is there is nothing truly easy in the sense of totally flat and totally buff. So the second thing we are thinking about is, "if Joe Tourist gets a map and thinks he's a mountain biker, what would HE think?" That would not be the same as we locals who ride all the time.

    thanks again for the help and thoughts guys.

  3. #3
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    Naming usually isnt too big of an issue around here.....its usually what the group you ride with that really sticks. on the map name it what the creator named it. if anyone has an issue with that then tell them to call it whatever they want. the maps been printed already.

    rating...just get a general consensus i would think. get some beginner riders and ask them what they think and then ask the locals what they think.

    and DO NOT forget the you are here....someone was nice enough to put lamenated trail maps on nice wooden posts out...but no you are here ><
    Lean back, Hit both brakes, And ask yourself, Do you feel lucky today?

  4. #4
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    Use the IMBA standard for trail rating.



    If you don't have any "easy" trails, then don't just label an intermediate as easy because it's your easiest. That sets up an unrealistic expectation in some riders.

    Since your map has a lot of trails in a tight area, definitely go with your thought about a blow-up detail. I did the same with our Highbridge map...

    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
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  5. #5
    saddlemeat
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    [quote=formica]Also, how do you guys handle trail naming and rating?

    Sometimes ratings aren't as useful as a description of the area, especially when there is not a whole lot of variation in the type terrain. We don't use the IMBA ratings because all our trails would be rated very difficult (black diamond), yet they are considered "fatman trails" in the Four Corners region, fast with no real climbs at moderate altitude, ie 7000 to 8000'.

    As for names, generally go with the earliest precident, the builder preferably. Lacking that, the most common, most decent, or even the coolest sounding. The land manager or owner should also be consulted if that applies to the situation. It's wise to consult a usgs topo map and be sensitive to existing place names. If it's a new trail I solicite suggestions and wait for a really good one.

    In the end it's the map maker's map.
    Making the smack track baby.

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  6. #6
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica

    What I want is some advice on mistakes not to make, mostly. Or things to think about that might not be obvious.
    A local hiking club got sued a few years ago for publishing a map showing trails on property it didn't have permission to use. The owner had the property posted, even fenced it. The most damaging evidence was the map produced by the club. Food for thought...even with the maps shown here.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    A local hiking club got sued a few years ago for publishing a map showing trails on property it didn't have permission to use. The owner had the property posted, even fenced it. The most damaging evidence was the map produced by the club. Food for thought...even with the maps shown here.
    good point, this is why we plan to only work with our Parks portion for now ( the first one). This is a very real concern for us,even though tons of people have been using the trails for 15+ years.

    The parcel map was made through digitizing trails/gis/aerial photos. We've made a point of not doing any on-the-ground work for parcels where we've not had contact with the owner. This is supposed to in theory cover us.

    minor rant: drives me nuts having to explain to people over and over again that we only do tangible work ( maintenance, maps etc) on the areas that we HAVE permission to work on. Meanwhile, the ad-hoc crew just keeps doing what they have been doing...

  8. #8
    Masher
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    A couple bits of advice based on a project I did:
    1) Leave the map background blank or a single color. While the imagery looks cool and is very useful for organizing or rectifying gps track data it really clutters the map...

    2) Don't be afraid to manually edit some of the tracks to straighten them slightly to reduce clutter. It really doesn't matter that there are 57 turns on the trail - what matters is where it starts, where it ends, it's length and the difficulty.

    It's a fine line to balance usability with detail!

  9. #9
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    Personally I like the imagery if you can add a DEM too it and drape the image over it will add to the map and looks cool. I think its beneficial for imagery especially in areas where a topo map does little to no help, but where geographical features are predominant. I did a map where I separated technical and physical difficulty into their each rating to give the rides an better idea what each trail was all about along with descriptions.

  10. #10
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    I know that your maps aren't a finished product, but I would recommend using the label features tool in ArcMap instead of using label features. The tool allows you to place the labels directly where you would like them instead of relying on the programs best placement.

    My best recommendation is get the book Designing Better Maps: A guide for GIS users by Cynthia A. Brewer.

  11. #11
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    where do I find that? My GIS training is strictly tasked. Most of the time I am totally suprised if I get it to do what is needed.

  12. #12
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    There are several ways to label features. Looking at your map I'm assuming you placed the numbers on the map using label features from the table of contents. This is fine, but the program places the labels and they are not always where you would like them. If you wanted to go this route you can convert the labels to annotation and then you have greater control over the labels.

    The easiest method is use the label features tool found on the drawing toolbar. To add the drawing toolbar go to Tools/toolbars/draw. On this toolbar there will be a text tool (it is just to the right of the shape tool). Click on the little arrow next to the A and the label tool should be in the upper right corner of your options. Now with this tool you have the option of letting the program select the best placement of the labels or have the labels placed where you click on the object. You can control what objects get labeled and the placement by clicking at the location of each object you would like labeled. You can change the appearence of each label by right clicking on the label and setting its properties. Also you can move and rotate the labels using the arrow tool or the rotate tool. BTW all this has to be done in the data view not layout view.

    There are many tricks to making a map layout look really professional in GIS. I really recommend the book from my previous post.

  13. #13
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    those are the FID numbers from the attribute table. One of the GIS pros who is helping us set that display up. I have not been able to duplicate that display the trail names which are also in the attribute table. I know how to do the text, it's smilar to photoshop.

  14. #14
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    You can continue to add the trail names using the "photoshop way" or you can have ArcGIS label the features for you so you don't have to type in all the names (assuming you have them named in the attribute table). You can do this the way I described above, but first you will have to set what field is being used to label. Do this by right clicking on the feature name and go to the feature properties. Now select the label tab. There should be an option for lable field. Select the field that is holding your trail names. Now close the propeties. Once this is set you can simply use the tool that I described above to label the trail names without having to type them again. Really all this does is save you time from typing the names. If you have a lot of names this can be nice way to label.

    I guess my suggestion is don't use the label features option because it can clutter up the labels as evidence in the FIDs on your original map.

  15. #15
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    Topo maps are far superior for a couple of reasons. They allow a rider to look at elevation changes on there own, and decide if they REALLY want to do that almost vertical 300 foot climb, or maybe not. They also make a slightly more accurate representation of where the heck you are in the land, as they are usually supported by thinner lines for trails. Much easier and clearer to decipher.
    Waverly park topo is a little condensed for my liking, but its an informative map. Otter creek is so easy a child can use it. If you can find their website, and see a lifesize version, you'd be amazed at not only the simplicity of the map, but how its almost second nature to understand where you are, and whats up ahead.
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  16. #16
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    I think you have to put everything in perspective here...

    First, i'm a huge fan of the work done by NYCmtb... these maps are great... It shows intersections clearly and you get the orientation you need via the streets layed out around the map... That's how you figure where you are... Of course, it works real great in an urban setting...

    The map for Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, NY is outstanding also, really clear and easy to navigate.

    Accuracy isn't the most important stuff on a map for the general public... However, the connections between the trails is the most important thing when dealing with a large piece of land... If you join the trail at a "T" intersection or a crossing "X" interseciton... then it needs to show clearly so the user know where they are on the map. You need to show the features (like a road, an old fireroad... even a brook...)

    If the area is flat... No need for Topo... but if there are great changes in elevation, go for topo... Also, if you can make a difference in the background color between open fields and forested area... Printscreens of GoogleEarth make a good starting point... But this is good on a small portion of land.... A wide park won't do it...

    Anyhow, maps aren't easy... And GIS and public maps are totally different. A trail rider doesn't need to know "exactly" where they are... they want to navigate trough the network with ease.

    Hope this helps a bit!
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

  17. #17
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    The problem with IMBA standards...

    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    Use the IMBA standard for trail rating.



    If you don't have any "easy" trails, then don't just label an intermediate as easy because it's your easiest. That sets up an unrealistic expectation in some riders.

    Since your map has a lot of trails in a tight area, definitely go with your thought about a blow-up detail. I did the same with our Highbridge map...

    The problem with the IMBA standards is their definitions almost ensure that the trail systems in the Kansas City area are all black or double black diamond. All of our trails, including our intermediate trails have rock ledges greater than 8".

    Keep in mind, this is flat as a pancake, Midwestern farming country. There are no hills. The trails hover at 900 ASL and don't break a hundred foot conture line and our trails would all be labeled expert level trails.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    The problem with the IMBA standards is their definitions almost ensure that the trail systems in the Kansas City area are all black or double black diamond. All of our trails, including our intermediate trails have rock ledges greater than 8".
    I find the trail ratings a great place to start. If you need to adjust something slightly because one of the 6 definitions within the standard doesn't fit, then by all means use your better judgement. They're guidelines meant to be adapted to your local conditions, not laws. But they're a great international baseline from which to standardize trail rating.
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
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  19. #19
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    I'm not trying to be a jerk...

    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    I find the trail ratings a great place to start. If you need to adjust something slightly because one of the 6 definitions within the standard doesn't fit, then by all means use your better judgement. They're guidelines meant to be adapted to your local conditions, not laws. But they're a great international baseline from which to standardize trail rating.
    But I'll likely come across as one. That's not my intent but....

    If you take a standard and change the definitions of those standard to fit your specific needs, then they're no long standards.

    If someone who comes from an area that uses the IMBA standards as written comes to the greater KC Metro to ride some easy (green or blue) trails and we've changed the standards to meet our own definition, that rider is going to go away upset over the level of difficulty of our trails.

    The standards would be more valuable if they gave obstacle ranges that allow for more flexibility in labeling a trail. If for example, a green trail were allowed to have obstacles that were 2"-8" and blue trails had obstacles that were between 2"- 12", etc. then the standards would be much easier to apply, regardless of the type of trail. A green trail in Kansas City, Moab or New York could all fall in to the same standards.

  20. #20
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    Unfortunately at ski areas this is indeed a problem... a black diamond at your local 400' hill is not the same terrain as a black diamond at a resort in real mountains... It's a relative classification between trails at ski areas.

    You both have good points - the key is that if you 'refine' the standard for local use you need to make it clear to the users how a green/blue/black trail is defined locally....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    If you take a standard and change the definitions of those standard to fit your specific needs, then they're no long standards.
    I agree, but better to do that than to not use the standards at all by stating that they just don't fit your trails.

    All standards are going to be arbitrary to some extent and compromise is necessary in order to make any standard work. The IMBA standards *do* provide a range of obstacle sizes- Easy is 1-2", Intermediate is 1-8", Expert is 1-15", etc. There's plenty of flexibility there as IMBA has left them deliberately vague to allow for the widest possible application.

    Your argument seems more about the threshold that IMBA has set for Intermediate trails rather than the lack of wiggle room.
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
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  22. #22
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    Perhaps you're correct...

    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    I agree, but better to do that than to not use the standards at all by stating that they just don't fit your trails.

    All standards are going to be arbitrary to some extent and compromise is necessary in order to make any standard work. The IMBA standards *do* provide a range of obstacle sizes- Easy is 1-2", Intermediate is 1-8", Expert is 1-15", etc. There's plenty of flexibility there as IMBA has left them deliberately vague to allow for the widest possible application.

    Your argument seems more about the threshold that IMBA has set for Intermediate trails rather than the lack of wiggle room.
    The problem is the standard for a mountain bike trail isn't realistic. A paved trail that has curbs on it falls under Intermediate based on the standard.

    There aren't any mountain bike trails that I've ridden that qualify as anything other than Intermediate.

    1-2" obstacles aren't realistic on singletrack. Rather than changing the standard on every trail, the standard should be changed to a more realistic range.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    The problem is the standard for a mountain bike trail isn't realistic. A paved trail that has curbs on it falls under Intermediate based on the standard.

    There aren't any mountain bike trails that I've ridden that qualify as anything other than Intermediate.

    1-2" obstacles aren't realistic on singletrack. Rather than changing the standard on every trail, the standard should be changed to a more realistic range.
    It's all relative. I ride DH and have no problem hucking 10+ footers, but I've seen a mountain biker here in NYC who, despite having ridden for years, WALKED HIS BIKE OFF CURBS. I s*** you not. I've also taken 10 year old beginner riders on our easiest trails and CRINGED as they crashed repeatedly because the things that we experienced riders/trailbuilders take for granted are FAR more challenging to less experienced riders.

    In general, I think the 8" threshold is appropriate for a "more difficult" blue square rating- the assumption with the green circle rating is that anyone should be able to ride that easy rated trail without any mountain biking experience, but navigating 8" ups and downs does take some experience and bike handling skill.

    And I think you're right that there's very little singletrack that would qualify as "easy" under the IMBA standards. The 36" tread width requirement would pretty much mean that anything "easy" wouldn't be singletrack.
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
    http://www.nycmtb.com

  24. #24
    Almost Human
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndysTrek
    Topo maps are far superior for a couple of reasons. They allow a rider to look at elevation changes on there own, and decide if they REALLY want to do that almost vertical 300 foot climb, or maybe not. They also make a slightly more accurate representation of where the heck you are in the land, as they are usually supported by thinner lines for trails. Much easier and clearer to decipher.
    Waverly park topo is a little condensed for my liking, but its an informative map. Otter creek is so easy a child can use it. If you can find their website, and see a lifesize version, you'd be amazed at not only the simplicity of the map, but how its almost second nature to understand where you are, and whats up ahead.
    Another alternative is to add/use spot elevations instead of topo and save yourself the clutter and hassle of label placement on topo lines?

  25. #25
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    Shaffer Butte Trail System Info

    Get ahold of Twisted Crank and Al. Twisted did a great job and Al got ours finalized. They turned out great.
    If you ain't hike you ain't Mnt Bikin

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