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Beginner Mapping Trails

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#1
tgbrooks

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I'm a high school student beginning a long-term project in which I would like to map local hiking and walking trails. I have already begun mapping them by walking along them with a GPS device recording my position. The results have been quite good, and certainly as good as I need them.

However, I am also interested in trying my hand at a mapping technique which can be done without GPSes. I am quite the beginner at this and have little idea where to begin. I have been researching surveying and cartography, but most of my findings have been more about surveying land, not trails. I would love to be pointed in the right direction. If you could let me know some good websites, books, or even just topics to Google, I'd be happy. I'm currently planning on reading "Mapping" by David Greenhood, as recommended in another thread here.

I am currently just trying to find out if this is even feasible given my time constraints (a couple months, so not too bad), lack of skill, and small budget. For my purposes, I could use pre-existing survey data of the surrounding land, only having to map out the actual trail on top of that. If this is not feasible, or only feasible for a small trail, that is fine.

Thanks in advance.

#2
Matthew Hampton

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You could do it the "old fashioned way" and buy maps that others have made (USGS, NPS, etc.) and trace the trails.

I guess it really depends on what you want in the end. What is the finished product/goal that you are trying to achieve?

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#3
patdunlavey

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In my years as an orienteering mapper, I've mapped many more miles of trails by map, compass and pacing than I ever will by GPS, and I can tell you that, while it's more satisfying and even, surprisingly, often more efficient than mapping by GPS, I believe that, GPS is a lot easier and more accurate.

Google orienteering mapping if you're looking for info on field checking techniques.
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#4
aug_aug

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Where are you located exactly? A cool idea would be to acquire some basemap data, LiDAR or DEM, aerial photos, etc. to overlay your routes on. Do you plan to utilize GIS at all? Some free GIS software can also interact with your GPS unit, thus making you a blinking dot on the map if you have a laptop.

This is all the opposite basically of the compass and pacing, just some ideas for you as I don't really know what your end goal is exactly.

#5
tgbrooks

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Sorry I've taken so long to reply! The forums wouldn't let me log in, or even view the forums (all links pointed to the log-in page), for a while, and I kind of forgot after that.

Thank you for the replies. Since my first post, I've made some good progress with GPS-based mappings. Reading the "Mapping" book I mentioned above was a great help. I am planning on starting some non-GPS-based mapping soonish now that the snow is melting. Now, onto your questions:

My end goal is to create simple maps for a number of local hiking and walking trials which are currently unmapped. These maps would be for either display at trail heads or for a hiker to bring with them on the trail. In addition to that, I want to compare GPS-based mapping to pre-GPS mapping, for a sort of historical perspective on whether doing this sort of project has become easier due to technology.

I live in New Hampshire, USA and I have been using available maps as base maps. The ones I'm using have come with the Garmin MapSource software and National Geographic's TOPO! software, both of which I've put my GPS-gathered data onto. I have no plans to utilize GIS data. While I am not particularly knowledgeable about GIS, I have the feeling that it's use would be fairly limited when it comes to mapping trails. What applications of GIS are there for trail mapping?

Again, thanks!




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