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  1. #1
    JDM
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    Trail Map Feedback

    I'm working on a trail map for our new riding area. I just wanted to share it here to get some feedback from other trail map users. I've posted it on Cartotalk and gotten some useful feedback there.

    Trail Map Feedback-page_hill_trails.jpg
    Last edited by JDM; 11-29-2011 at 08:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    Looks good to me. My first impression was that the map has a tilted perspective, but i think it's just the shapes of the park borders.

    But i like the contrasting colors for the trail, and contour lines are real subtle. The map by itself is laid out nice and easy to read.
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  3. #3
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    Looks good to me. What software are you using to generate the map?

  4. #4
    JDM
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    The map was with all open source software. The main program is Quantum GIS. It was used to assemble the various layers, set transparency, line style, create labels, north arrow, scale bar and legend.

    The hillshade layer was that trickiest. It created in a program called 3dem using data downloaded from the USGS website. The geotiff image it created was quite pixelated, so I used GIMP to smooth it. Since GIMP stripped out the geo tags, I had to use a command line GDAL tool to reinsert them so QGIS would correctly align the layer with the others.

    The contour lines came from UNH's GIS database for New Hampshire.

    The singletrack and property boundaries came from GPS data that we collected.

    The double track, power lines, streams, houses, and road were traced using gmap-pedometer.com and exported as GPX.

  5. #5
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    I am a huge fan of putting halos around the labels, it makes them pop out much more. See the map below for an example. Other than that it looks pretty good! After going through so much work on the DEM you probably don't want to re-do anything, but you can possibley download a higher resolution DEM file (that is in turn less pixelated) to avoid some of the processing. But those aren't available for the whole country from USGS.

    http://www.mtbnj.com/w/images/a/ad/S..._r20090923.pdf

  6. #6
    JDM
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlb81 View Post
    ... you can possibley download a higher resolution DEM file (that is in turn less pixelated) to avoid some of the processing
    I looked around quite a bit, but couldn't find any higher resolution DEMs. It sounds like post-processing is a typical step in making a nice hillshade from what I've read.

    I like like what you did with the labels. I wonder how I would do that. Would I create a 2nd label underneath that is white and uses a larger font, or is there an easier way to do it in QGIS?

    *EDIT*
    Never mind. I found the feature in QGIS. It is called a buffer in the label dialog. I'll give that a shot tonight.

  7. #7
    JDM
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    rlb81-
    I really like your trail directory!

  8. #8
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    Nice job. Glad to see others using QGIS. Too bad the hillshade hides the contours within the park. Maybe changing layer order would bring them back out.

  9. #9
    JDM
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    The contours do stand out a bit better in the PNG than they do in this JPG, but the could be better. I think I'm going to play with the hillshade one more time in GMIP. I'll try increasing both the contrast and brightness a bit. This should make the contours stand out more and make the hillshade effect a bit stronger.

    The contours are already on top of the hillshade.

  10. #10
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    Can't add anything more than kudos on this. Looks very nice to me. If you do find a way to get the topo contour lines from not vanishing in the shadows let us know how you did it.

  11. #11
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    I use ArcGIS 9.3 and 10 for a living so your map is pretty nice looking for QGis. It has a nice soft feel that sometimes even ArcGIS has problems giving. People love the Google Maps design which your map does a good of replicating with the additional symbology GIS programs provide.

    I'd probably add the Murray Hill Rd on the locator inset map.

    I'd probably ditch the hillshade. It looks really cool, but I'd prefer to have the contours over the fancy looks.

  12. #12
    JDM
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    I think contour lines our more difficult for some people to interpret that you might imagine. The hillshade does make it easier, so is more than just to look fancy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    The contours do stand out a bit better in the PNG than they do in this JPG, but the could be better. I think I'm going to play with the hillshade one more time in GMIP. I'll try increasing both the contrast and brightness a bit. This should make the contours stand out more and make the hillshade effect a bit stronger.

    The contours are already on top of the hillshade.
    It looks like the contour lines are a similar color to the hillshade. See if you can change the color of the contour lines to something that has a nice contrast to the green in the hillshade. Maybe grey.

    Any chance you post a tutorial thread for this? I think that would make a great sticky in this section.

    Great map!!!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    rlb81-
    I really like your trail directory!
    Thanks though I can't take any credit or ownership. We have a pretty good team of people on our NJ MTB forums.

  15. #15
    JDM
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    Thanks for all the great feedback. I made a few more tweaks and I think I'm gonna call it good enough for now.

    I can't wait to get out there next spring and scratch some more singletrack into the ground!

    I'll try to do a write up describing the process.



    Last edited by JDM; 11-30-2011 at 09:41 AM.

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    I like that one.

  17. #17
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    The map looks good. May not be a bad idea to add the mileage of each trail so beginners know what they are getting into before they start.
    CyclingCentralVa.org

  18. #18
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    This is one of the better QGIS examples I've seen out there. The big thing that turns me off to it is that a lot of the tools I know in a GUI in ArcGIS and other packages (Manifold, for example) are command-line only through the GDAL interface. I learned to use DOS and whatnot when I was very little, and mostly haven't used command-line stuff since my father bought a computer with Windows 3.1 on it. Needless to say, I'm a bit rusty there. Throw in a different syntax and it just takes me too long to do something that I get frustrated with it.

    I have to agree that a lot of people REALLY have a hard time interpreting contour lines (I spent weeks trying to teach the topic in an introductory college course this fall) and adding a hillshade layer really helps some people understand contours. I'd keep it, but I do agree that the layering of colors makes it tough to pick out the contours somewhat. Maybe change the symbology of the park boundary so that the area is represented by green diagonal lines or a crosshatch or just a fat colored border with no fill? That way the contours should stand out a little better on the hillshade layer?

  19. #19
    JDM
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    I like the idea of giving more information about each trail (length, technical difficulty, climbing effort, interesting features). I'm also thinking about color coding the trails by difficulty level and using coordinating colors for the trail markers.

    I decided to punt on all of that for now, but I've started a list of ideas for next year's map.

    This has been our first year of trail work at this new site and I'm happy to have a few trails built and a decent map to help get some tires on them!

  20. #20
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    I like the revision, and I'm personally a fan of subtle contours. That's not a piece of information that needs to stick out at you as much as, for instance, the trail itself. When you need that extra information it's still there, it just doesn't have to pop out and overtake the map. Also bonus for not overdoing the contour intervals. I've seen maps that show 2ft elevation contours on a 2000 scale map in a park that has some serious vertical. Then they just become a meaningless blur of lines.

    Good work on a your first shot with mapping. What's your day job?

  21. #21
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    My only other comment, though not as important on a map like this, is to have a true scale/scale bar. In that sense I mean have a 1in scale bar and your map scale set to 1"=1000' (or whatever fits the park on the page size you're using). I dismiss it's importance here because it's not highly likely that someone will try to scale off the trail distances, but it is possible. Having a scale bar that's geared towards that will help.

  22. #22
    JDM
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    I'm a mechanical engineer.

    It seems that I really only have control of the scale on a printed version. That reminds me... does anyone know of a printing service that will print on tyvek (or whatever it is that water resistant maps are printed on)?

  23. #23
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    the 2nd map did not load for me earlier, but I see it now. I don't think green hillshade is really all that intuitive to me. shades of gray (shadow) make more intuitive sense for hillshade.

  24. #24
    JDM
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    I thought I had put the 2nd one in there last night, but it wasn't there this morning, so I edited the post.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    does anyone know of a printing service that will print on tyvek (or whatever it is that water resistant maps are printed on)?
    Print on "Dura Paper".

    It is a polyester sheet that is completely waterproof, tear-proof and SUPER durable. I've had one folded up and stuffed in my camel bak for the past couple seasons with no wear or tears. The maps will last forever.

    We get our maps printed on this stuff by Modern Press in Albany, NY., a local printer. They use a standard color laser printer to print them up. They are even nice enough to donate the printing, we just pay for the cost of the paper.

    Its' a little pricey as far as paper goes, but there is no comparison when you start looking at professional map media or tyvek. Which will get very expensive, I looked into it a couple years ago.

    I recommend setting up some ad space on the back of the map and selling spots to local bike shops and businesses. It's a great way to offset the costs and raise a little $$ for your trail building projects.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post

    I'll try to do a write up describing the process.
    A list of tools required and what layers were required for legends, tagging, GPS data, etc. would be great. I have been working along similar lines for our trail maps but I have probably made it more convoluted than the process needs to be.

  27. #27
    JDM
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    My process was pretty convoluted too, but I suspect it will go better the next time. I'm going to start another map this weekend so I can take notes on how I did it.

    RockyMT, are you using QGIS also?

  28. #28
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    I did the field data gathering and my son did most of the CAD work. This is what I recall of the process:

    Manifold: Capture a satellite background, trail tagging.
    Autocad: Clean up the GPS track. I now have Topofusion Pro that I would use for this.
    Photoshop: Capture and clean up club logo and legend from old club map.
    Indesign: Insert logo and legend into map.


    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    My process was pretty convoluted too, but I suspect it will go better the next time. I'm going to start another map this weekend so I can take notes on how I did it.

    RockyMT, are you using QGIS also?

  29. #29
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    Good job! I make maps for living and I think it looks pretty good. I have heard of QuantumGIS, but have never used it since I have access to ArcGIS. I would add to the suggestion to place mileage labels on the trails as well.

    One other note...if you have the .gpx file for the trail and you would like to add a elevation profile you can use GPS Visualizer. You can copy the image it makes to your computer in png format. You could then bring that image into Quatum (or some other program) and trace over it.

  30. #30
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    Just an opinion. For such a smaller map of a smaller park, i think the topography lines clutter the map a bit, and i wonder if so many of them are really necessary.

    i really like the contour shapes (shading), but personally for myself as a map reader the only times i'm really concerned with reading elevation lines is when i'm charting an epic backcountry ride, which to me would mean a ride of around 30 miles and 5000' of cumulative vert.

    Or i would appreciate more lines to assist in trail building.

    If your trail system was larger and/or followed down the creek to a lower elevation then it might be useful to have them.

    i just wonder what a map with contour lines with less increments between each hundred feet might look, if that's possible.
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  31. #31
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    Oh and i like the trail names, i am picking up on the theme, but i am missing the Bearclaw reference, must have missed that movie.
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  32. #32
    JDM
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    Bear Claw and Hard Hat aren't movie references. Bearclaw just has a lot of scratches on the beach trees in the area from bears climbing them. Hardhat has an old logger's hardhat left in the woods, hanging from a branch out there.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    Bear Claw and Hard Hat aren't movie references.
    Oh i was thinking that Hard Hat was a Cheech and Chong reference.

    Code name Hard Hat.

    Cheech & Chong Lard Ass - YouTube
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  34. #34
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    Nice job you have inspired our team to create a fund raising map for the local shops, thanks again!

  35. #35
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    I'm a total GIS newb, and I have to say after spending some time trying to figure out how to produce a map like this one I have developed a great respect for people like JDM who have figured out how to do it. This is not a trivial effort!

    I sure wish it didn't take so much expertise to create these things. Much of the instruction I have found assumes you have a good foundation in GIS and data sources, which I don't, so this kind of thing looks like a long slog to me. Ah well, I will keep thrashing away at it when I have time.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    I'm a total GIS newb, and I have to say after spending some time trying to figure out how to produce a map like this one I have developed a great respect for people like JDM who have figured out how to do it. This is not a trivial effort!

    I sure wish it didn't take so much expertise to create these things. Much of the instruction I have found assumes you have a good foundation in GIS and data sources, which I don't, so this kind of thing looks like a long slog to me. Ah well, I will keep thrashing away at it when I have time.
    Assembling layers into a coherent map isn't much of a problem as long as you have all the data you need and it's all in some format you can easily make use of.

    Seems all the problems I tend to have with GIS have to do with the following issues:

    1. finding or creating the data I need.
    2. making sure formatting issues are managed - projections are a major one, but others are more subtle like the data type specified for a field in the attribute data. file format isn't usually a huge problem, but sometimes it can be depending on the software you're using.
    3. finding a tool to do what I need to do with regards to analysis or manipulation of the data.

  37. #37
    JDM
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    Sorry I haven't done the more complete write-up that I said I would do. I'm still hoping to do one, but it probably won't be until the 2012 trail building season is over and its time to put out a new rev of the map. Lately I've been busy with building trail out there and.... RIDING!


    I spent tens of hours fooling around to figure out how to make that map. It was definitely a long slog for me. Bonked, what do you have so far? What step are you stuck on?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDM View Post
    What step are you stuck on?
    I'm just getting started, really. I have installed QGIS and have started tinkering with it. Right now it seems like my initial challenge is finding good data.

    I just downloaded the US DEM shapefile data from USGS. My guess is the right thing to do is import that data into a PostGIS db via SPIT so that it can be used to create contours and hillshading with GRASS or whatever, so I plan on installing PostgreSQL and creating a spatial db as my next step. If that isn't the right approach I would appreciate being pointed in the correct direction.

    I haven't even started looking for vector data for nearby roads and water. For now I'm hoping I can find that data in USGS but I haven't looked yet.


    I'm currently helping on a number of projects (probably over 16 miles of new trail at this point) that would benefit from some nice, custom maps when it comes time to sell the concepts to decision makers, not to mention end users. I'm hoping that I can figure this stuff out so that I can make nice, professional maps that will help convince people that we know what we are doing, and maybe make the maps available to the users when/if the trails get built.

    It would be great if you put together a how-to describing what you went thru to put together your map, but I can understand that you may want to get outside and actually enjoy the trails rather than map them.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    I'm just getting started, really. I have installed QGIS and have started tinkering with it. Right now it seems like my initial challenge is finding good data.

    I just downloaded the US DEM shapefile data from USGS. My guess is the right thing to do is import that data into a PostGIS db via SPIT so that it can be used to create contours and hillshading with GRASS or whatever, so I plan on installing PostgreSQL and creating a spatial db as my next step. If that isn't the right approach I would appreciate being pointed in the correct direction.

    I haven't even started looking for vector data for nearby roads and water. For now I'm hoping I can find that data in USGS but I haven't looked yet.


    I'm currently helping on a number of projects (probably over 16 miles of new trail at this point) that would benefit from some nice, custom maps when it comes time to sell the concepts to decision makers, not to mention end users. I'm hoping that I can figure this stuff out so that I can make nice, professional maps that will help convince people that we know what we are doing, and maybe make the maps available to the users when/if the trails get built.

    It would be great if you put together a how-to describing what you went thru to put together your map, but I can understand that you may want to get outside and actually enjoy the trails rather than map them.
    His workflow probably won't help you as much as you like. He used Manifold and you're on QGIS. The two programs are very different from each other. I have only used QGIS for basic stuff...I haven't touched GRASS yet, but it sounds like you're headed the right direction. GRASS is really the only way to go when doing much analysis in QGIS.

    My primary expreience is with ArcGIS and I've dabbled with Manifold and QGIS enough to find my way around. Each program is so different from the others...

    One thing you might try is connecting to WMS or other servers for your basic vector data. All you really do is tell the software the path of the xml file that points to the layers and it will load what you need much like Google Earth. Just about any GIS worth using these days can access this stuff.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    He used Manifold and you're on QGIS.
    I thought JDM was using QGIS (RockyMtn mentions Manifold). But, regardless, I do value my time, and if forking out $s for Manifold will save me tens of hours I'm willing to consider it. I haven't invested that much time in QGIS so I have no qualms with abandoning it for something better. The computer hobbyist geek in me faded decades ago and I get no thrill in cobbling together tools that look like they are built using tinker toys.

    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    One thing you might try is connecting to WMS or other servers for your basic vector data.
    Great idea. I got the impression that this was the way to go, but haven't yet figured out how to hook it up.

  41. #41
    JDM
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    Here's a quick version off the top of my head:

    I used QGIS to assemble everything. I never really figured out who the CRS works, I just used trial and error.

    I live in NH and got some data from UNH's GIS repository. I got tagged vector contours, main roads and DEMS there. I couldn't adjust the locations of the contour labels that are automatically generated from the metadata, so I had to manually create the labels. Text should point up hill.

    I used 3DEM to make a GeoTiff hillshade from the DEM. It looked very pixelated, so I used GIMP to blur it and adjust colors, contrast and brightness. GIMP strips out the geo information and gives you a plain TIFF. I had to use some command-line program to turn the GIMP output back into a GeoTiff. I don't remember what program that was. It may be a GRASS tool.

    I used Gmap-pedomter.com to create create tracks for streams, doubletracks and power lines and rock walls. It can display google maps (satellite &terrain) and USGS topos. I just manually traced the features I was interested in. You can toggle between basemaps as you draw. There is an outside link to export the track to GPX.

    We recorded data for the singletracks with GPSs. In most cases I imported a few tracks into TOPOfusion and hand-sketched an 'average' route. I favored usable over accurate. If a trail has 6 switch-backs you should be able to count them on the map, even if that means drawing the a little longer/bigger on the map than they are in real life. It is the same with the rock walls. I had to move them away from the road so the lines would look too cluttered, even though this means I was givinng up some accuracy.

    I composed the final map in QGIS composer. The composer in the early version kinda stinks, but the one in 1.7 worked well.

    Finally, I used inkscape (an open-source vector graphics program) to edit some of the icons. I had planned to polish up the final map in inkscape, but the direct output of QGIS composer was good enough so I left it.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    I thought JDM was using QGIS (RockyMtn mentions Manifold).
    my bad. I was posting from my ipod and it's easy to miss stuff on the tiny screen.

    you might still want QGIS/GRASS for some geoprocessing tasks. I know of a few other programs you might want to use depending on the stuff you need to process. the license of Manifold I got doesn't allow for many of the more advanced geoprocessing tools I'm used to using in Arc. Geospatial Modelling Environment is a nice one with a lot of tools.

    But for map design, I find Manifold much better and more flexible than QGIS. building the legend is different than I'm used to. in most programs I've used, each legend item applies to one map element. In Manifold, however, you can have different legend items apply to multiple map elements which gives you some flexibility with your symbology. For example, I did a trail map with it where I had colors that applied to trail surface and line styles (width, hashes, etc) that indicated trail width. So I could have a paved MUT or a gravel MUT or a dirt MUT. the dirt MUT had different style than dirt singletrack, but they were the same color. I need to use Manifold more to get used to some of the things it does, but it's nice.

    Regarding DEM data, if you can get your hands on 10m stuff, you might as well use it because it'll have much less pixelation. I suspect JDM used 30m. sometimes that's all you can get, but if 10m is available, use it. it's starting to become more available.

    I used Gmap-pedomter.com to create create tracks for streams, doubletracks and power lines and rock walls. It can display google maps (satellite &terrain) and USGS topos. I just manually traced the features I was interested in. You can toggle between basemaps as you draw. There is an outside link to export the track to GPX.
    why did you do it this way? most of that data is available for free download as shapefiles from state sites (you mentioned using the NH site already).

    FYI, something I found somewhat limiting was the map exporter in Manifold. It took me awhile to get map dimensions set.

    I live in NH and got some data from UNH's GIS repository. I got tagged vector contours, main roads and DEMS there. I couldn't adjust the locations of the contour labels that are automatically generated from the metadata, so I had to manually create the labels. Text should point up hill.
    Manifold has better label tools so you can position them better. is it some kind of recognized "standard" that text points uphill? I have never seen that explicitly mentioned anywhere and I guess I've never noticed that done on other maps. most label placement engines I've used tend to place the labels oriented along the line in the direction the line was recorded, either through GPS or in the order the points were created, with options to force the labels as horizontal or whatever. I have never been so picky about that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Trail Map Feedback-rectrails.jpg  


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