mapping help/show me your maps
Ok I've built the trail and played with making some maps but so far not all that happy. Gps tracks i have and am getting better at collecting. But editing multiple trail tracks together and making a cohesive easy to use map now that is ware i start having problems.
played with googal earth and quantam and topofusion.
1. What cheap (free or close to it) programs do you suggest
2. show us your maps and what programs did you use to make them.
3. any other mapping help would be appreciated.
Free Online Map
Originally Posted by TrailMasonJones
This is a link (https://sites.google.com/site/sedona...in/attachments) to some maps I made up for mountain bikers coming to Sedona to ride. The commercial maps didn't have all the mountain biking trails so I provided a map to better help riders navigate around the beautiful countryside.
The first three maps cover an area about 13 miles long and 10 miles wide. They overlap so it's easier to figure where you are at. I used topofusion to make the original map then dropped sections into Publisher then saved the file Publisher file
into a pdf or jpeg.
When you click on the link I will give you permission to check out the maps. If you want to send me your topofusion file I might be able to make it look nice, if you think my map has any merit.
Here's an example of one of the maps that I've made for our local state park trail system:
I work with AutoCAD, so I import all my graphics into that and then create my own image, which I can customize in any number of ways. It's not the way that the GIS guys do it, but it works for me.
I've done quite a bit of volunteer mapping for area clubs. If you're having a hard time with this, send me an email and maybe I can help you out.
I've seen some of SwampBoy's work its nice. I've been playing with Open Street Maps combine with JOSM for managing the GPS track I have. I've started on Google a little, but this Mapmaker solution isn't brilliant. However google is WAY note popular than OSM, so it's probably worth the effort.
Sent from my Lumia 900 using Board Express
I use Global Mapper and am learning ArcMap right now. If you're doing your GPS surveying in tight quarters (trail loops back very close to itself, or in a small skills area, etc.) there are things you can do to make your GPS data more accurate. If you can get within 3 meters with a GPS then you're lucky. The way around this:
Make multiple passes (if it's just 2 that's fine) and take waypoints at the same spots each time. Keep track of the record number of each position (carry a notepad with you). Dump the GPS data points into Microsoft Excel and take the average Easting and Northing of each point, then put your averaged coordinates into your GIS program.
I'd be happy to help out if you'd like.
Killer of Chains
Also remember that you don't always need super accurate data when making the visual map. Very few people are going to take your map and georeference it to determine if the trail are where you say they are.
Now, if your offering GPX or KML data to the public so they can go out and ride without getting lost, obviously you don't want to be skimping on accuracy, but here again, you only need to be as accurate as most consumer GPS units. If you using a Garmin GPSMap 60, 62 or Etrex 10/20/30 with GLONAS, or even an iPhone with GLONAS, your accuracy is about as good as its going to get for most trail users.
Now, for trail planning, it's a little different. When a few meter can put you into someone elses property, or you want to be able to walk the exact path the trail will take prior to flagging, accuracy counts, but here again, you'll flag the trail on the ground anyway, so why do you need these super accurate maps? The only time I'd want sub-meter accuracy is if I know I'm really close to a property line and the trail needs to be that close.
Unfortunately, because I only use ESRI products, I can't really help much with which programs to use.
It sounds like you need to pay a visit to OSGeo. You can get QGIS and GRASS there (open source GIS utilities). Also the Open Source GIS page, which is just a links list but still helpful. They're not perfect, but when you don't have a budget, they're good options. Also look at MapWindow GIS for open source GIS programs.
I second the techniques mentioned above for getting the most accurate data you can. I would add that most Garmin handhelds have waypoint averaging functions. When you are marking waypoints along the trail as control points (intersections, at the apex of a turn, basically any spot the trail changes direction), use waypoint averaging. On newer models, waypoint averaging is designed to function best on multiple visits, so you don't have to mark a whole new waypoint when you are recording the trail a second (or third, etc) time. You can simply add more averaging points to your existing waypoint. My Oregon 450 does this.
I typed up my process for adding trails to OpenStreetMap
Take a look and let me know your thoughts. Good luck.
BTW: All the software I've used is free.
FYI: I was able to get one trail onto Google's Map using MapMaker. It took about 5 days to go through the approval process.
Cliff the cheapest and easiest way I use is Google Earth and an IPhone (not cheap but everybody has one) and a gps ap. I use GPS Kit, with it you can both import and export GPS tracks. Make track then import to Google Earth. From Google Earth you can do so much. Your track will import into the left frame under my places. Right click on the track and select "get info" at the bottom, from there give your trail a name, change color or thickness, check mileage. Then move the info box out of the way of the track which now appears as a line of points. These points are fully editable with the mouse, you can delete points, add points to smooth radii, move points to refine trail accuracy. The iphone will not give accurate track but it is close, the more you know the trail the more you correct the track.
JUST FOUND I CAN'T POST LINKS YET ????? Will do after 9 more posts (so they say)
This is a Google Earth map edited in MS Publisher (because it is easy to use)
But the best part is the live capability of Google Earth. Right Click "show elevation profile" and get elevation gains, distances, slope avg & max. Plus there always the heli flyover. And a bunch of other stuff.
here's a quick sample of the import. Finished map to follow.
Left out something. From the iphone ap "GPS Kit" you email the .kmz or .kml file just as you would send a photo from your phone. If Google Earth is on the recipient computer from the email click on the attached file (right click to check that the file "opens with" Goog Erth) it will launch with your new track installed on GE. Then commence editing.
Not everyone has an iphone
USFS, State Parks, County Parks, and City Parks here would laugh us into the ground and kick us out completely if we wanted to do trail maps with an iPhone and Google Maps.
"Yup, yup, got my professional trail builder / mapper kit right out of this box of Cracker Jacks, and some cool crayons to draw with." Give. Me. A. Break.
Get a real GPS, lay down at least 10 tracks with waypoint averaging, and then use a real mapping program or GIS program to produce your map. (Trail Maps - CCCMB)
"The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie
CCCMB trail work for trail access - SLO, CA
It's precisely that attitude that prevents a lot of organizations from getting things done. I have worked with a local state park that tried to do everything using nice, full-blown, mapping apps, but nobody on their staff knew how to use them so they would constantly have to wait for weeks or even months for an outside group to be contracted to do it, and then there was the inevitable, time-consuming, ping-pong as the outside group slowly learned what the heck the park wanted. Sigh... it was useless.
Originally Posted by slocaus
I told them to use their phones. Contrary to a previous post, just about everybody has a smartphone with a reasonable GPS in it these days. If all you are interested in is getting a general notion about where a trail is that is plenty good enough. Granted, you couldn't turn that over to a surveyor and have a track layed out to sub-meter accuracy, but it is good enough for somebody to visualize the concept on a map and to find the flagging if they go looking for it. The Google tools are free and bare bones simple which makes them a good deal for budget and skills strapped government agencies.
I've gone out and walked a proposed route tracking it with my phone, downloaded it to my laptop, tweaked it with Google Earth, and presented it to a park manager, all on the same day. Little effort, and it gave them all they needed to see. Not fancy, but who cares? They got what they needed and we could move forward. No budget allocations needed, weeks of training on a GIS and mapping system avoided, immediate results. I'm willing to settle for good enough if it means getting things done.
Not everybody has I-phones - this is true.
Not everybody can use pro GIS mapping software - this is true.
If you can't use GIS software you shouldn't bother making a map - I disagree.
The deal with a map is to be able to help people find their way around. Does it matter how it gets done if it's accurate enough to use? Not really.
Does it have to be a GPS track or online map? No, paper maps can work just fine.
I have just the barest little bit of GIS training. I use my cheap-o GPS to get a track, and use a CAD drafting program to make a map image that can be printed out, or saved on your I-phone I guess (I try not to be a slave to technology - at least on my bike). One of my maps that I made just so that I could find my way around the trails is now the "official" trail map for the state park, so I guess it's good enough.
I look at it like this - if someone is trying to pitch in and help the mtb community by making a map, whether they're experts or not, at least they're trying and may produce something that will help some new riders find their way. I'm grateful for ANY little morsel of help on our trail systems, be it mapping or trail work or whatever.
The map image you posted above is busted. Could we see another example of your maps?
No dispute that people should be encouraged to use whatever method produces a result that meets their needs. A simple depiction of a proposed trail for landmanager approval is different than what might be adequate for a full-color park brochure.
I'm a QGIS fan. It's easy to learn and any trail data can easily be shared with park GIS departments. Your data can be displayed in context with publicly available GIS datalayers (wetlands, habitat, park bounds, etc.), the same data on which regulators and landmanagers base their decisions.
QGIS meets my current needs but there's no best way. I'm always interested in new mapping methods - some I learned about in this thread are very interesting.
It depends on your goals. If you are only trying to get a basic idea and make a map for general reference, then it isn't a big deal. Lots of people make those kinds of maps with drawing programs and no GPS data at all.
Originally Posted by swampboy62
If you want high quality data that can be used for more than just basic reference then you need better equipment and software. That is what slocaus is talking about and there is nothing wrong with that. When I make a trail map, I intend for someone to be able to do detailed navigation with it. An iphone is insufficient for that job. A consumer gps is insufficient for that job on one pass but thankfully most consumer handhelds have averaging that is sufficient.
As a land manager, i do not think you are doing your job well if you can't figure out your Trimble or other survey grade GPS. Tools of the trade and all. That is standard equipment nowadays.
I am merely a trail builder who has been given the opportunity to build in a 1200 acre county park. The map is for visitors to get the layout and best flow of this area. My map is practical not perfection and as I said the iphone gets a track in the ball park. I use the satellite image to fine tune the gps track to the trail sections visible from near earth orbit. "Close Enough" as PaintPeelingPbody said.
Quick Simple Done.
Yes the governmental agencies may want civil engineers to map our trails but it's just dirt guys and we got no budget.
even with no budget, you can do better, which was the original point of this post.
What follows is a map I made with a program called Manifold. It's not free. It's not especially cheap, either, but it is considerably less expensive than ArcGIS. I bought it myself several years ago. In some ways I like the ways I can control the symbology and show important information in the legend. For example, I can have the map show both trail surface and trail name.
On the other hand, that also can make the map very busy (which is why all of the singletrack trails are thin lines that are the same color). The user interface is not my favorite for setting those attributes, either.
I am going to redo this map in a more printer-friendly version for the campus rec department with contour lines instead of satellite imagery. I will be using ArcGIS (I have a 1yr trial version right now) for it since campus rec also wants a poster version of the map that they can hang in their office where they rent mountain bikes.
I also display this same map on my website in Google Maps with GMap4 with the file in .kml format.
<center><iframe src="http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=http://thegpsgeek.com/gpsdata/Nacogdoches_Trails.kml&t=t2&z=14" width="700px" height="600px"></iframe></center>
if you dont have a smart phone you can use any GPS unit (can be borrowed from hiker friends or rented from outdoor stores) and use a free program called GPSbabel (cant post the link yet. google it) to convert the gps track into a .kml or .kmz shapefile which can be imported directly into google earth
Originally Posted by NateHawk
sorry about that but I can now show you a finished Simple trail map. http://www.bikevmb.com/sites/default...Map%206.12.pdf
Now we can get back to building more trail.
Last edited by ABud; 01-25-2013 at 05:50 PM.
Yeah, really, Swamp. I used to make maps for a living before I retired (OK I was retired, lol). And I can say, those are nice.
Steve Z - Those are some nice maps! Perhaps the map making tools one might use will depend in large part on how you want to deliver the maps. Some times the goal might be to produce a static map that can be delivered via a piece of paper or jpg/PDF file. Other times the goal might be to produce an online interactive map that let's the user switch the basemap from topographic to aerial to other types of base maps.
Nate - I recommend you use t=t4 in your Gmap4 links. Doing so will display the hi-res topo and get rid of the MyTopo watermarks and ads. Note - There are a couple small bugs in Gmap4 that I will fix later this week.
Now here is a new idea.
One main reason I developed Gmap4 was so people could display maps of trail systems:
* In most browsers on most devices, including smartphones
* Switch between various base maps including topo and aerial
* Use the familiar google map interface
* Map opens by clicking a link. Nothing to download or install.
But what about making a data file for Gmap4 to display? Yes, it can display GPX, KML, KMZ. But there is something better. Gmap4 can also display a delimited text file format I designed.This format has:
* The most commonly used concepts from KLM
* A much! simpler syntax
* Useful features not found in KML
The best examples are on Bivouac.com
Get a free login and then drill down to the detail page for a peak.
Click the "Gmap" link near the top of the page.
You are now seeing Gmap4 displaying a delimited text file.
Note the peak labels - They are clickable
Watch the labels and switch to an aerial view
The guy that runs Bivouac asked me to expand the syntax for delimited files so he can have dashed lines on his maps. That features will be the next enhancement I add.
If you have the coordinates for your trail system, you can make a delimited file. You might have to use something like GPSBabel to convert the coordinates into the right format.
If you would like to learn more please visit the homepage, download the Help file and search it on "delimited".
Gmap4 homepage: Gmap4 = Free Online Topo Maps + Google Maps + More
Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Here's a map that I made. Here's what I used for software
Quantum GIS to assembly the final map
Inskscape for minor vector graphics work
Topofusion to import many GPS tracks for trails and hand sketch an 'average' path through them. I would often draw some corners and switchbacks larger than the truth to make the map more readable. I count on people counting switchbacks, but not scaling from the map for orienteering. Save out put as ERSI shape file.
gmap-pedometer.com to sketch existing doubletracks, power lines, houses, roads, streams, etc from a combo of available data there (google airial photos, street maps, USGS topos, etc).
Grass tools in QGIS to further smooth and reduce points of trails drawn in topofusion.
I downloaded vector contours and raster DEMs from Univ of NH GIS database. The vector contours came right into Quantum GIS. The rester DEMs required some substantial fiddling to make nice contour shade layers. I used some open source software to generate the hill shade (maybe 3DEM, don't remember). This image was a low res geotiff. I brought it into GIMP to smooth it and adjust the colors (save the output as a NEW file name). The output of GIMP was no longer a geotiff. I used a GDAL command line tool to take turn the new TIFF from GIMP into a geoTIFF.
Very nice map! Easy to read and looks to be usable when on the trail.
Originally Posted by JDM
I copy/pasted an old bit of code I'm using on my website. It would be a huge PITA to go through all of the pages on my site and change the map links.
Originally Posted by Jelf
Also, FWIW, I am not a fan of custom file formats or syntax or any of that. If I can't do a simple file conversion, I won't use the format. Even if there are advantages of said format. I'm not going to manually convert my files. What would be nice is if you spoke with a programmer of an existing program (say, Scott with Topofusion) to get him to support your format, allow WYSIWYG offline editing of your format, and file conversion capabilities (say, between .gpx, .kml, and .shp). That would make it easy to use your delimited text format on my site because I could create the files in a simple visual environment rather than in a text editor.
Very nice map, contours, shading and very clean. Job well done.
I did look at the Quantum GIS manual and it looks a like time consuming learning process.
any good mapping program takes time to learn to use. the rewards are well worth the investment. a professional-looking product can really set your volunteer group apart. say you're proposing a new project within a local trail system that has no volunteer stewards. it's been a tough nut to crack this particular land manager. you have to be absolutely on top of your game with a highly professional proposal for the project. such a map would be a huge component of that proposal.
Originally Posted by ABud
as such, I think it's absolutely worth putting together the best product you can, even spending a little bit of money (your own money, if need be) to get the best you can. throwing something together in Google Earth might cut it for an easy situation, but then again, it might not be good enough.
I've been reading and following along on this thread with great interest - mostly because mapping is the bain of my existence. I can use a GPS and get a track and put it on google maps or whatever, but good maps are something else entirely. Especially map proposals - which is to say, drawing in proposed trail routes.
There seems to be a lot of solutions, mostly GIS software, which I admit I don't really understand, but I'm certain I could learn. My question is, what's available to run on Mac, that's good, preferably free (hey, a guy can dream, right?) and will allow me to produce a good map both in proposal form AND from a GPS track. Anyone?
All of my previous usable maps have been trail maintenance stuff - walk the trails with a GPS, locate problem spots, make a flag, make a note, publish it. The stuff I've been using works well for that, but there's no way I can see to draw stuff in with it. Thanks for any help, and for some enlightening conversation so far.
Making maps is an art, even with computer software. It takes time, an attention to detail, and enough knowledge of the software to make it do what you want.
Macs are terrible for GIS work. Always have been and probably always will be. QGIS is your only option really. As you can see, you can make beautiful maps with it, but you will also need a solid drawing program and possibly some other utilities. Be patient with it as you learn. It will probably take years to develop skill. I have been working with And learning ArcGIS since 1999 and I still have much to learn about making good trail maps. I learn a lot from the examples and descriptions folks post here.
That's what I'm afraid of. My hobby is laying out good quality trail and it consumes all of my spare time improving that aspect of trail design. As much as I love and appreciate nice quality maps I can't justify investing the effort to learn to do it myself. I have played around with QGIS and although I find it intriguing, all the little nuances (like where the heck to find the layers I want, or running utilities to smooth shading, etc.) wore me out. I'm afraid that in the few times that I truly need a quality product I will have to find somebody like you to take care of it for me. Otherwise, I am content with the adequate, free, and easy to use Google utilities.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Fortunately, I have yet to encounter a situation where I have had to produce spiffy maps to sway someone. In the situations where spiffy maps were desired the agency I was working with had the talent to generate the maps and I didn't have to do anything but provide a refined GPS track.
Thanks for the compliments. I worked pretty hard on my map. It took my probably 80 hrs to find the software, figure out how to use it, find the data, figure out how to massage it and put it all together. When I thought I was done I posted up here and on a cartography forum for feedback then made some revisions to polish it up further.
Now that all that hard work is done it is VERY easy to make professional looking proposals, compile info from scouting missions, and update the map for new trails.
I did a poor job of making notes the first time around. I promised to do do a write up for my process on this forum a while back, but haven't gotten around to it yet. The good news is that our club is taking on a project for a new trail network and another club member has asked for some help to make a similar map for that area. I have started adding a few more notes to my early notes and we will collaborate to write up a decent how-to document as we go. If I ever do get it written up I'll be sure to share it here.
Ortelius is a great Cartographic software for Mac.
Originally Posted by Cotharyus
Free Trail... $99 purchase.
Tons of map symbols and styles. Intuitive tools for drawing.
I usually use GPS Visualizer to get a map of GPX files, then use that as a drawing template in Ortelius.
Ortelius, that's a new one to me. Looks like a pretty intuitive vector editing program. I like what they say about curves in paths. They are in my neck of the woods, even.
Originally Posted by chukt
You may still need tools from QGIS for a complete map, however. It is rare that I make a map without using raster data in some way or another. I have four GIS programs on my computer now and know a little bit about and have used a fifth quite a bit in the last 4 years. They all have their place.
FWIW, finding layers is a fairly simple process once you get the hang of it. Thers are usually GIS data repositories for each state that will satisfy most of your needs. There may also be county and municipal government sources that are easy enough to find. Some of the special agency sources can be tricky, however. But for the most part it just takes learning your local government agency structure to figure out who is in charge of what. If you are lucky, all of the agencies supply their data to the statewide clearinghouse, or the clearinghouse maintains links to agency sources.
It is more of a challenge, IMO, to deal with the different formats that some data is distributed in. A lot of these agencies just assume folks are using ESRI software and supply data in ESRI formats which can be a royal pain for volunteers or other people in the general public using open source software from other publishers
For editing GPX there is Garmin's BaseCamp. Pretty good for cataloging/track storage and management.
TrailRunner is a free software for Mac. Good for "snapping" tracks together to create trail system segments. This is alot faster then editing track by track for lots of tracks. It can be a little unstable though.
I use both of these to create drawing layer templates for Ortelius. As stated here previously, there is a learning curve but the time spent gives great results. I love Ortelius for cartography.
I am fairly proficient w/ ArcGIS...but for MtB purposes on the ground and in "reallife" I stick to the GPX based world. Even if the day comes that ArcGIS is available for OSX...and I happen to have the spare cash...that spare cash will go in to the bike.
Haha, I wouldn't count on that. I would use gpx more widely if I could set more attributes to have differing symbology. The file standard is too rigid for that. I "can" do it but other programs that adhere strictly to the standard freak out. Kml is very much the same way in many respects. So for making printable trail maps, I stick with shapefiles. I wish there was a good GIS format (flexible) in a single file like kml or gpx that could easily be displayed online, also
Originally Posted by chukt
I found that shape files work well in QGIS.
JDM are you available for hire? And can you use a .kmz as the data source for your style map.
.kmz includes compressed raster data and that raster data would be useless in QGIS. kml files, you can use. you may or may not be able to get the symbology how you like it. that will depend on how the file was created and how you want to adjust the line styles/colors. It is not the most flexible format for GIS work, but it's very good for web display.
Originally Posted by ABud
I would need to think about that. Feel free to PM me with your email address so we can toss details around.
Thanks for the tips guys. I've been messing with Ortelius for a few weeks now and still don't really have a handle on that. I'll take a look at QGIS as well. Unfortunately, pretty much every computer I have access to at the moment is Mac due to my background in audio production, so I'll just have to make due as best I can.
Disclaimer, I'm not a GIS expert and have never used any of the programs referenced above.
Below are two maps we (SMBA) produce. The layout was orginally designed by a graphic designer (same guy that created the NYCMTB maps). It is created in Adobe Illustrator. The base geographic data (topo, roads, streams, etc) are imported from pdf maps downloaded from USGS.gov. The trails are gps'd using a garmin gps, exported from mapsource as a dxf, which is then imported into Illustrator. This requires a bit of rescaling of the trail tracks in illustrator, but hasn't been a big issue.
I'm sure the maps are not 100% accurate reagarding exact location of trails in relation to surrounding topography but it serves the purpose of navigation around our trails systems very well.
This isn't exactly what GIS experts are used to, but I think it makes for an aestically pleasing map and gives you ultimate control over the appearance, border, etc.
I really like the map of Pittstown SF.
I am not sure that a scale bar is really worth including on maps made with illustrator. I certainly appreciate the graphic artistry that goes into such products, but without spatial reference information, you simply can't be sure that things like scale bars, north arrows with declination scales, and coordinate systems can be accurate enough to actually use them for navigation purposes.
I think an ideal product is one generated in GIS for accuracy and then modified using graphics tools for aesthetic purposes. Most GIS programs have pretty poor graphics manipulation tools. ArcGIS does a pretty good job with those. I am working on a map right now that I'll post when I'm finished done exclusively with ArcGIS and I think it looks pretty good. I'm waiting on some information from the manager to set symbology how I want, and then I have some graphics work to do in order to make it look nice for printing. I am going to make a version for a poster sized wall print, as well as a version that can go onto the backside of a 3 fold 8x10 brochure. I'll let the student workers deal with the front side with information about their rentals, rules, or whatever else they want to put on it.