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Thread: NoVA trail maps

  1. #1
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    NoVA trail maps

    Starting late last year (while unemployed), I started working on trail maps for local northern virginia/DC area trails. Originally I did Lake Fairfax since it lacked a good map and was my local trail, but once I had a technique down I started working on other area parks as well. Since then, I've been hammering away at them whenever I have time.

    These are "open" maps. I've released them under a creative commons license, which means you are free to reproduce them, copy them, modify them and spread them around, as long as you aren't using them commercially and as long as proper attribution is given.

    Here are the ones I've done:

    Lake Accotink
    Fountainhead
    Lake Fairfax
    Laurel Hill
    Wakefield
    Hoyles Mill
    Rosaryville
    Schaeffer Farms
    Black Hill
    Gambrill
    Elizabeth Furnace

    Click the thumbnail to see them full res.

    Additionally, Conway Robinson is started but I need some help filling it out, and I've just started Fort Dupont.

    If anyone sees something that needs fixing or information that would be good to have, please let me know (email is on every map). The intent is to give someone who is new to the trail system some information as to what is there. For changes to trails (or trails I've missed), a gps track is very helpful to include. Some of these aren't fully complete, but I've posted any that are far enough along to be useful.

  2. #2
    bikeboatbrewski
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    Sweet, good job!!

    Pushed up your rep for that one.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Jabberwocky, that's awesome!

    Well done.

  4. #4
    beautiful jackass
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    This is great, thanks! It's awesome to see Accotink mapped out.

  5. #5
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    What is your method for making the maps efficiently, if you don't mind saying...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvalonTrails View Post
    What is your method for making the maps efficiently, if you don't mind saying...
    Not at all.

    For initial map creation, I get a bunch of GPX files from either my own rides or from Garmin Connect. Depends on the size of the trail system, but I shoot for at least few dozen. I then use EasyGPS to combine them into a single composite GPX file.

    Take that to GPS visualizer's Google Maps form. I use custom settings (usually a 4000x4000 frame, 1 pixel wide tracks, don't colorize, 100% opacity, 99999 track points per track) and output. This overlays the combined GPX files onto google maps (hybrid). Note that they have a 3 meg upload limit; if your combined track is over that, you can stick them in a zip file to get more on there. Once created, I get the zoom level I want and orient the frame to center the map area.

    I then download the entire window to a PNG using the Screengrab plugin for Firefox. This PNG gets imported into Photoshop. To get a pretty background to use, I do the same process but set the track opacity to 0% (effectively making it invisible) and using satellite rather than hybrid imagery (no road names).

    To get topographic info, I used to use Mobile Atlas Creator to get data from either Terraserver or MyTopo. Unfortunately, MAC lost the ability to import from either source a while back. I now grab the UsTopo PDFs from the USGS store and output topo info from them. They work quite well. Its only a pain if multiple pdfs have to be combined to cover the map area (the EF map required 4 pieces to be put together, but most of the smaller ones are contained on one).

    Everything is combined and created in Adobe Photoshop. The entire process is a bit complicated to explain here, but I use multiple layers and lots of blending options to create the various parts of the map. The Lake Fairfax map, for example, has perhaps 150 layers. The satellite image is a layer, the singletrack is a layer, the topo lines are a layer, roads are a layer, etc. This allows me to make rapid changes to any aspect of the map.

    The only really complex part is creating the terrain shadowing. I trace out the topo lines from the USGS quads, then output just the topo lines on a white image. I vectorize them, set line elevations and create a terrain mesh in Google Sketchup using the sandbox tools. For example, here is the terrain for Lake Fairfax:

    From there, I set sun angle (just picking something that gives nice shadows) and output a top-down 2D view. That becomes the shadow layer in Photoshop.

    I'm almost entirely raster based (not vector) aside from the brief sections in Sketchup. A lot of that is just my personal comfort (I know Photoshop extremely well from doing rendering and graphic stuff at work) but its also because it gives me a lot of creative control over the output.

    Lemme know if you'd like more detail. I'm happy to explain the process further if you have questions.

  7. #7
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    Wow, that's fantastic! Thanks for the explanation.

    Pushed your rep.

  8. #8
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    Very much appreciated.

    Wow, and so simple!!! JK

    Do you have any recommendations for tools to edit / simplify the GPS route data?

  9. #9
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    +1 good stuff will keep this in mind for future rides

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvalonTrails View Post
    Do you have any recommendations for tools to edit / simplify the GPS route data?
    I use the GPS tracks as a guide, but actually draw overtop of them. Its usually easy to see where a track has gone off, so I've never had any real need to actually edit individual tracks.

    I do is GPSbabel when I need to translate formats. But I don't think you can actually edit with it.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I personally use Sporttracks for ride tracking, and it has an edit mode which is good for deleting extraneous points and such.

  11. #11
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    ive been using your maps for a while. best ive found! thanks!

  12. #12
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    Man I think I might have a chance of finding the tech loop at Rosaryville now!

    Thank you much for posting these. Great work.

  13. #13
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    Just sent you a PM about Conway Robinson. Forgot to mention that I have a GPX file as well. If it would be of any help just let me know and I'll shoot it your way.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    Starting late last year (while unemployed), I started working on trail maps for local northern virginia/DC area trails. Originally I did Lake Fairfax since it lacked a good map and was my local trail, but once I had a technique down I started working on other area parks as well. Since then, I've been hammering away at them whenever I have time.

    These are "open" maps. I've released them under a creative commons license, which means you are free to reproduce them, copy them, modify them and spread them around, as long as you aren't using them commercially and as long as proper attribution is given.

    Here are the ones I've done:


    Additionally, Conway Robinson is started but I need some help filling it out, and I've just started Fort Dupont.

    If anyone sees something that needs fixing or information that would be good to have, please let me know (email is on every map). The intent is to give someone who is new to the trail system some information as to what is there. For changes to trails (or trails I've missed), a gps track is very helpful to include. Some of these aren't fully complete, but I've posted any that are far enough along to be useful.
    Thanks for the links - this is awesome!

  15. #15
    NoVA MTBer
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    Awesome maps... Repped...
    _______________
    -

  16. #16
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    I downloaded them all! Thanks.

    BTW. new to the area and looking for reasonably dedicated group rides--maybe not group rides but riders who get together regularly to train and ride. I am in Arlington.

    Traveler

  17. #17
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    Nice work on the maps. I'll be headed out from Golden, Colorado to Leesburg to visit the inlaws in November, will try to hit up some of these. Recommendations on top 3? Do you have a regional map by chance? I'd like to hit as many as I can within an hour or so of Leesburg.

  18. #18
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    Gambril is about a 30 minute drive from Leesburg. It is as technical riding as you will get in the area.

    Greenbrier State Park isnt on his list but that will offer a good mix of everything and is a step down in difficulty from Gambril.

    Shaeffer Farms is much easier but fast and fun.

    Fountainhead offers a good variety. Not technical but challenging in certain spots. Still a fun loop

  19. #19
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    Tin_Cup, the LORO trail wiki main page has a map with the trails on it: Log Off Ride OnTrails and Routes Wiki

    It isn't comprehensive at the moment (a few trails are missing) but its a good place to start.

    As a Colorado boy, I'm assuming you want to skip the suburban stuff and get right to the good trails. Gambrill and the Frederick Watershed are your best bet. Straight up 15 into Frederick, about a half hour from Leesburg. Lots of technical rocky eastern rain forest riding.

  20. #20
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    thanks for the advice, Gambril and Frederick watershed it is. I used to live off of Duke and 395, I think I've ridden fountainhead once. good stuff. any LBS recommendations that will let me demo? I may not try to fly the rig out there, renting is prolly a whole lot easier.

    in the mean time, here's a stoke from out west, a ride we are going to go catch this weekend:
    Kenosha

  21. #21
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    Hi Chris---I saw your maps on the MORE site (I've been booted since I'm no longer a member) a while back and was impressed!

    There's a park here in Morgantown (White Park) that I'd love to develop a good map for (just for the hell of it). But it's a unique challenge because it packs a ton of noodly trails into a VERY small area (like a few acres).

    The park is so small that when you zoom in on topo maps, there are maybe 2 contour lines covering the whole park, even though there is plenty of terrain variation. (It's almost like trying to map a giant BMX or pump track.)

    Any ideas here? I've started collecting GPS tracks (though I haven't hit every trail yet)...but with a trail system like this, the real benefit of a map would be in showing specific trail features (whoops, berms, steep climbs, raised trails, etc.)

    I don't know for sure no map already exists, but I doubt it---the place was an old strip mine that's been reforested, and it's nuts (meaning many trails are 10 feet from one another and cut-throughs are everywhere).

    One could argue that it's pointless trying to map a system like this. Maybe so? (But like I said, we don't do this stuff 'cause we have to!)

    It almost seems like the best way to go is to cover every trail with GPS tracks, then hand-draw the whole map and work out some kind of notation/illustration system for whoops, etc.

    Scott

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. óJim311

  22. #22
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    Scott, I'm sure the trail is mappable. For a very small, tight trail I'm not sure my usual technique will work though. GPS is only so accurate. On a large trail, the trail line being off by 10-15 feet isn't really even noticeable, but on a small one it can be a problem. It would depend on the size/tightness of the trail. Feel free to email me tracks if you want me to take a look at it. My email is on all my maps.

    For contours, its difficult to find anything better than 10ft (or 20ft), which is what the USGS quads are generally at. Maybe local agencies/parks and rec/someone has GIS data with more accurate topographic info, but it isn't readily available that I've found. Obviously, the problem with 20 ft contours is that small hills don't show up.

  23. #23
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    What if you walked the park trails with the gps in hand rather than riding it? Set the update speed for every second. maybe that will give you better resolution on the track??? have a handheld Magellan that I can mark points at any time and name them, maybe you could use something like that to mark some trail features??

  24. #24
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    I might send you some tracks Chris---I'm still collecting them (and it's so tight they're a mess!). I'd be interested to see how well Easy GPS does at merging tracks. I've got TopoFusion, and it has a "Make Network" feature that merges tracks...but the results are kinda random, and there are several settings you can play with (such as how close two parallel tracks have to be before they're considered a single track, that sort of thing).

    I actually thought of walking the trails...and that might result in a better track. My older Garmin eTrex Vista (which I still have and maybe should try) had a feature that let you choose whether to record a track point every second, or every X feet. My newer Garmin Oregon is dumbed-down for some reason; the settings just say "Record points most often" or "Record points less often" or "Record points least often." (No specific settings for every second or X feet.)

    I'd be surprised if there was municipal GIS data with more detailed contours, but there might be. The whole area was a strip mine decades ago, so it's got all kinds of random raised berms and large bowl-shaped depressions and random mounds (made into whoops).

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. óJim311

  25. #25
    burnedthetoast
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    This is pretty awesome. Thanks Jabberwocky! Lake Fairfax/CCT is my default right now as well - I don't often get the time to go other places, but these maps are definitely going to make it easier when I do!

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