Mapping for new trail?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Mapping for new trail?

    Hi,

    I have the responsibility for laying out a new trail loop in a local state park. This is my second loop and I'd like to avoid some of the problems that I ran into the first time around.

    The first loop had some serious space constraints. The land we had to build in surrounded a main valley with several feeder valleys coming in from 2 sides. The feeder valleys originated from outside the property boundary-in other words the property line cut across them. The gulleys at the bottom of the feeder valleys up near the property line were too deep and steep to bike, and we are not allowed to build bridges. The land at the bottom of the main valley is choked with brush and is small in area compared to the surrounding land. As a result we ended up with over 1000' of vertical in a 4 mile loop. Some people like this, but others are intimidated by the multiple steep climbs and avoid the trail.

    The new piece of land is on the side of a large hill, and has several gulleys running down the hillside. It's small, about 1/2 - 1/3 mile on a side. The USGS maps and aerial photography I've found on line are pretty coarse at this resolution. I bought a GPS to help me put together some kind of picture of the terrain.

    At this point I'm kind of fumbling around with finding a way to use the GPS to map the area in question so I can come up with a way to use the land to fold in as much trail as reasonable (folds far enough apart that riders won't be tempted to shortcut), along with not punishing the riders with excessive up and down the hillside.

    Most of the software I've found for the GPS seems to be oriented toward putting user track and way points down on an existing map. Because the existing maps I've found are so coarse in detail at the resolution I need, I'm not sure this approach will work. Has anyone here had a similar experience? If so, any words of advise would be appreciated.

    BTW, even if the GPS is not useful for this purpose, it will be very useful for marking the location of dead fall trees on the trail so I can shorcut to them on foot carrying a chainsaw. Having a map of the flagged trail corridor will be potentially useful. We have had vandals tear down our flags before. We will also need a map of the final trail to add to our website, and to give to the Park so they can hand out copies to trail users.

    Walt

  2. #2
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    higher quality GIS program....

    Since this is a state park, you should be given access to a GIS server and software that can provide you with higher resolution images. Basic use of this equipment is pretty simple if you've been using Google Earth 3D....Have you?

    Try using Google Earth 3d if you haven't yet. The resolution isn't too bad.

    You may want to walk the boundary with your GPS and create a track that would be your boundary line on the image. Then you may be able to better make out some of the areas you will be placing the trail upon.

    If the vegetation is thick in certain areas, that may be where you want to run your fold-overs or switch back climbs. The vegetation would reduce the temptation to shortcut.

    Ask the land manager if they use ArcGIS or other GIS software? If not, find someone with the city or county planning commission. If they aren't using GIS, they're living in the stone age.
    Roll over the weak and bunny hop the dead!

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  3. #3
    Masher
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    DeLorme Topo USA, super detailed with downloadable satellite imagery and aerial photography... check it out.

  4. #4
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    Calling from the Mesozoic era....

    Quote Originally Posted by fastmtnbiker33w
    Since this is a state park, you should be given access to a GIS server and software that can provide you with higher resolution images. Basic use of this equipment is pretty simple if you've been using Google Earth 3D....Have you?

    Try using Google Earth 3d if you haven't yet. The resolution isn't too bad.

    Is this different than Google Earth? I like the terrain maps, but it appears I have to spend for the pro version to upload GPS information. Please correct me if I have this wrong.

    You may want to walk the boundary with your GPS and create a track that would be your boundary line on the image. Then you may be able to better make out some of the areas you will be placing the trail upon.

    Good idea, thanks. I've made a start on this but need to follow through. I was a little nervous with the armed guys in blaze orange out last weekend.

    If the vegetation is thick in certain areas, that may be where you want to run your fold-overs or switch back climbs. The vegetation would reduce the temptation to shortcut.

    True, but at a cost in trail maintenance. A lot of the vegetation is raspberry, I'd like to avoid having to cut it twice every year.

    I am as concerned about having the trail folds well spaced from an aesthetic standpoint. I've ridden a nearby trail that is folded in together too close and it's kind of lame to see someone riding 100 yards behind you, but headed in the opposite direction... and you've already put another 360 degrees in turns.

    Ask the land manager if they use ArcGIS or other GIS software? If not, find someone with the city or county planning commission. If they aren't using GIS, they're living in the stone age.
    He he he, you are funny. This 700 acre park has one full time employee. The state DNR is about to have their budget cut again. I will make inquiries though.

  5. #5
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by fishbum
    DeLorme Topo USA, super detailed with downloadable satellite imagery and aerial photography... check it out.
    I'll try, but I've already invested in Garmin.

    Walt

  6. #6
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    You mean you bought the Mapsource software? Gotcha.
    If not you can move tracks and waypoints between different GPS units and mapping software, you just can't load DeLorme maps on a Garmin device, and vice versa.

  7. #7
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    Better resolution

    This product (USA Photomaps):

    http://jdmcox.com/

    seems to be closest to what I'm looking for. It taps into USGS aerial photography at up to 1pixel/meter resolution which makes the area I'm looking at large enough that my waypoints are spread across my computer screen. I haven't worked with it enough to be sure that it will meet all my needs, but it's a good start.

    Thanks fishbum and fastmtnbiker.

    Walt

  8. #8
    Witty McWitterson
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    Walt check your pms, eh?

    and for those watching - this park is in WI right? Where aboots?
    Just a regular guy.

  9. #9
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    I like the USA Photomaps stuff. It's easy to use with your gps, and you can switch between b/w aerial and usgs topo quad quickly. You can also save your images to jpgs that you can use elsewhere to create maps.

    Importing your gps tracks into Google Earth is also another way to do it. Google Earth's imagery is actually pretty damn good (especially for free). It's actually better than some aerial photography my company has PAID for.

    Either way, you end up needing some type of additional software to create quality maps with borders and title blocks, but GE or USAPM will get you building trail. ArcGIS is probably the best, but I highly doubt you can get access to it, it's $2500 per seat, and it's not a user-friendly program to teach yourself.

  10. #10
    Just roll it......
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    Great Post!

    Walt (and others),

    I'm in the same boat. I've basically been wandering the woods for weeks and really saved a bunch of time one day when I went out with my buddy who had a GPS unit with him.

    As such, I'm in the market for a good GPS that does the following:

    A. Has solid reception in dense forest. I'm in the PNW and we've got some big trees up here.

    B. It is easy to use (e.g. select bookmarks/waypoints, has decent software that accompanies it, etc.).

    C. Allows me to overlay topomaps, roads, etc. over it.

    D. Decent battery life.

    I'm sure I'm missing something as this is an entirely new topic for me. Thanks in advance to any trail builders that can help me sort out the most important info.

    Cheers,
    EB

  11. #11
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    Blue Mound State (WI) Park

    Quote Originally Posted by ~martini~
    Walt check your pms, eh?

    and for those watching - this park is in WI right? Where aboots?
    For those who want more detail, my club (CORP or Capital Off Road Pathfinders) will be planning and constructing a new loop on the south side of the mound, downhill from the campground. I'm starting in with the scouting part of the work over the winter. I will also be proposing a grant to the Friends of BMSP for the purchase of some trail building equipment, and I'd like to have something to show them in the way of at least knowing what the boundaries are of the area, and maybe some of the topography too. Hence the map.

    We have a really nice MTB trail in the park. What is lacking IMO is it's too short. I'm working on fixing that problem.

    Walt

  12. #12
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    My $0.02

    Quote Originally Posted by ebxtreme
    Walt (and others),

    I'm in the same boat. I've basically been wandering the woods for weeks and really saved a bunch of time one day when I went out with my buddy who had a GPS unit with him.

    As such, I'm in the market for a good GPS that does the following:

    A. Has solid reception in dense forest. I'm in the PNW and we've got some big trees up here.

    B. It is easy to use (e.g. select bookmarks/waypoints, has decent software that accompanies it, etc.).

    C. Allows me to overlay topomaps, roads, etc. over it.

    D. Decent battery life.

    I'm sure I'm missing something as this is an entirely new topic for me. Thanks in advance to any trail builders that can help me sort out the most important info.

    Cheers,
    EB
    The issue with tree cover vs reception has gotten a lot better recently. Look for newer GPS units with SiRF chipsets. The Garmin GPSs use a different (functionally equivalent) chip. The Vista Hcx I bought can at find at least 2 satellites from the basement of my house. It also gets about twice the battery life of its predecesor. Another nice feature is an electronic compass. GPS does not tell you what direction you're headed unless you are moving.

    On the other hand, the landform maps with Garmin don't have the kind of resolution that is desireable for MTB trails IMO. Follow fishbum's advice and check out the DeLorme maps before you buy. Compare them to the maps on USAPhotoMaps as linked above and see what is what. It would be really nice, if pricey, to be able to load high resolution maps directly to the GPS, instead of having to put everthing together on a computer. I suspect that I would have had to bring things together on the computer anyway to make a map, but it would be nice to be able to look at an aerial view out in the field.

    I don't have any experience with competing GPS units and am just getting started looking for software, so I will leave it to others to advise you in these matters. My uninformed guess is that you will get decent waypoint and tracking features in most hand-held GPS units because that's what they are made to do.

    Walt

  13. #13
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    Ok, as far as GPS units go I'm partial to the new DeLorme PN-20 device for a couple reasons... one being that their maps are the best, and you can download them to the GPS. You can also get hires color imagery and satellite imagery, and download that to the PN-20 to carry into the field. (now you can even get NOAA charts onto the PN-20!). When you purchase the unit you get a coupon to download some free imagery.

    So you can do planning on the desktop, transfer the maps and imagery and planned waypoints and proposed trail locations to the device and take it all in the field. In the woods/field you can layout your trail, walk it with the GPS, and upload the track back to the PC. With the imagery I was able to see some of the key points like trail intersections (and places to avoid like swamps). Then you can georeference the trail intersections to the imagery to improve accuracy. Gotta love technology!!!!

  14. #14
    Just roll it......
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishbum
    Ok, as far as GPS units go I'm partial to the new DeLorme PN-20 device for a couple reasons... one being that their maps are the best, and you can download them to the GPS. You can also get hires color imagery and satellite imagery, and download that to the PN-20 to carry into the field. (now you can even get NOAA charts onto the PN-20!). When you purchase the unit you get a coupon to download some free imagery.

    So you can do planning on the desktop, transfer the maps and imagery and planned waypoints and proposed trail locations to the device and take it all in the field. In the woods/field you can layout your trail, walk it with the GPS, and upload the track back to the PC. With the imagery I was able to see some of the key points like trail intersections (and places to avoid like swamps). Then you can georeference the trail intersections to the imagery to improve accuracy. Gotta love technology!!!!
    Fishburn, thanks for the reco. and Walt as well!

    Sounds like the type or product I'm looking for. You guys/gals, have recommendations on the best place to purchase? I know another mtbr member has a GPS site (can't remember the name), but there are likely a lot of other worthy places as well. I'm a complete newb with this topic (come to me about FR and DH questions if you need though! ) so any help is very much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    EB

  15. #15
    JmZ
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    Slightly OT - re:Grant.

    Looking for hand tools or power.

    Powerbar/IMBA's done grants for tools in the past. Local club got one for a bunch of handtools just last year. Normally in $500 increments.

    JmZ
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

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