New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

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Joseph Elfelt
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New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by Joseph Elfelt » September 26th, 2013, 8:40 am

The map below features the most accurate trail distances according to the USFS. If you click a trail then the endpoints for that trail segment will be circled and a popup will appear. The popup shows how the distance data was collected and has a link to the forest service detail page for this trail (if such a detail page exists). You can also click any of the symbols to see links to forest service detail pages.

Please see the “Tips” link in the upper left corner of the map. The “Tips” info includes some brief background on how this map was produced.

Bummer Dept: This map crashes Safari (iOS 6.1.3) on an iPhone 4S and 4th generation iPad. I am investigating. There is a report that it does work on Android but I do not have any Android devices myself.

(See more below the map)



The following link is a zoomed out view that shows all the data for this national forest. Since the map is a solid pile of symbols, you will need to zoom in for this to make any sense.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... t_hood.txt

The data you see on this map resides in two data files. Those data files were produced by code I wrote which processes data from the forest service. In a like manner, similar maps for other national forests can also be produced. At the moment there are still a few manual steps in this process but they can readily be converted to code.

There are a number of features throughout the forest (campgrounds etc) for which the forest service does not have coordinates. Is anyone interested in cooperating to crowd-source that data and provide it to the FS?

Admittedly, I am a data geek with a database background. Here are a few key things (good and bad) that caught my eye as I tracked down the data for this map.

1. (Very good) The forest service’s GIS is open to the public in the sense that anyone with the right technical savvy can extract data.

2. (Bad) Each feature like a trailhead, trail, campground, boat launch, etc has a record in the forest service’s INFRA (Infrastructure) database. Note that trailhead and trail are different features and the forest service keeps track of different data for these two different features. The “trail” records that exist in the INFRA database apparently were not copied to the GIS (at least for the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie NF). These “trail” records do not contain the coordinates for the trail but instead contain data like which permit(s) are required to use the trail and the link that will display the forest service detail page for the trail.

3. (Very bad) The forest service’s GIS defines the data fields that are stored for each trail segment. That list of data fields does not include the “control number” that uniquely identifies each trail in the INFRA database. Attempting to match a trail segment to data about the entire trail by using trail name or trail number is fraught with peril.

Here is my recommendation. The forest service should:
A. Load their “trail” records from INFRA into the GIS
B. Load all “control” field data from INFRA to the GIS
C. Publish the data dictionary for the INFRA trail data and make it easy to find with a Google search. After extensive searching I am convinced that this critical document is not available on the public internet. I did find the data dictionary for roads but that document states up front that it does not apply to trails.
D. Provide a way for the reader to easily see if they are looking at the most recent version of this data dictionary.

Finally, I welcome all suggestions for how the map can be improved.

raven
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by raven » September 26th, 2013, 10:16 am

Joseph,

I've only glanced over the map, so I have only a few tentative comments. They can be summarized as your work is top notch, but the Forest Service data are spotty. A very useful resource, in places.

No trail data seems to exist for parts of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area I checked. North of there, the trail data was spotty. On the one hand, one highlighted trail provided me with the instant recognition of a possible short loop hike using a segment of the PCT, on the other hand, the PCT mileage was not available. Nearby it was, for a segment of the trail crossing from the MHNF into the Warm Springs Reservation. In contrast to the lack of Mt. Jefferson trails covered, the Bull of the Woods Wilderness seems fairly complete, The Hatfield Wilderness in the Gorge, spotty.

I suspect the USFS database is a work in progress, not yet intended for public use. I think this discussion should be moved to the maps and navigation forum, pending a more complete data set.
.

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BrianEdwards
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by BrianEdwards » September 26th, 2013, 10:28 am

Thanks again Joseph for all the hard work.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

Joseph Elfelt
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by Joseph Elfelt » September 26th, 2013, 12:05 pm

Dang - I forgot about the maps and nav forum.
Yes - would the mods please move it there?
Thanks

Yes, the FS trail data that I pulled from their GIS server is very much a work in progress on their part. Perhaps by putting this map out there it will help the FS see where there are holes in their data.

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jdemott
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by jdemott » September 26th, 2013, 2:30 pm

Very cool, Joseph. Thanks for all the hard work you do on gmap4. I particularly like the ability to click through to the trail descriptions. Obviously, the FS data are a work in progress, so some segments of the map are more useful than others.

There is a lot of descriptive/location info in the Field Guide here on PH (also a work in progress)...I wonder if any use can be made of it (cf. your suggestion about crowd sourced data).

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romann
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by romann » September 26th, 2013, 3:36 pm

Looks great, and very useful - all trails on one map. Thank you for hard work. Maybe this map can be added to this site's Field Guide?

One thing is while most trails in Mount Hood area shown accurately (some minor gaps but easy to see), on the edge of the forest it is not always so. In some locations, rerouted trails show @ their current locations (like Gumjuwac trail east from HWY 35), while some other trails are @ old locations (like rerouted Little Badger Creek trail in Badger Cr Wilderness - it never crosses its namesake creek anymore). In 15-mile Canyon @ the very east end of MHNF, the map shows a 2.4 mile segment #683 but there's actually not a trace of trail there (I looked for it), but other good trail along Fifteenmile Creek is not shown.

In Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, there's a good trail up Huckleberry Mountain from N side but it's not official so not shown - maybe the solution is to take GPX tracks from the hikers, to add to the map?
Last edited by romann on September 26th, 2013, 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

raven
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by raven » September 26th, 2013, 3:48 pm

Interesting that the USFS database:

(1) shows a path from the Eliot crossing to the old base of the Eliot glacier along the creek bed -- a route has never shown as a trail on any map of which I am aware; and

(2) does not show the trail to Red Hill -- a trail extension along Vista Rdige that has appeared on every topo map I can remember looking for it on.

'Tis a puzzlement.

Joseph Elfelt
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by Joseph Elfelt » September 26th, 2013, 8:28 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

Background on FS data management for trails

Here is an interesting FS data flow chart I found online:
http://www.gliffy.com/publish/3754035/

Trail data starts out in the lower right corner. The INFRA system stores its data in an Oracle database.

From INFRA the arrows lead to EDW. This is a GIS system that is controlled by software from the ESRI company. The map I posted displays data from the GIS that my code has processed to make it more informative.

At about the middle of the data flow chart you see something called “Interactive Visitor Map” (IVM). If you google “forest service” “Interactive Visitor Map” then you see ... almost nothing. Of the very few hits returned a couple of them are by a consultant who is working on the IVM. Obviously it is not done yet.

While I was googling to find out about FS data I saw some slides that said the USDA (FS is a component) as negotiated an enterprise license with ESRI. This means that the IVM will use ESRI’s product called ArcGIS Online. Broadly speaking, this product is a competitor to Google maps. If you have never seen ArcGIS Online, here is a map showing a trail the FS manages in Florida:
http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewe ... 1381aab438

Back to the map

I have found the track for the PCT on the FS GIS but that data does not include the distances for each segment. I pinged someone in the FS asking where to find that distance data. No answer yet. After I track down the PCT distance data then I will add that trail to the map.

Adding data from the field guide to the map is a great idea. Here are the two easiest options:

Option 1. Put any data you want to add to the map into a KML file. Gmap4 can display up to 5 KML files.

Option 2. Put any data you want to add to the map into the delimited file format that Gmap4 can read and display. I will append that data to the end of the mt_hood.txt file that Gmap4 displays to produce the map.

Track data should be in a KML file. Point data can be in either file type. If you put point data in a delimited text file then you have a lot more control over labels.

I am happy to provide some tips and answer questions if anyone wants to pursue a project to add field guide data to the map.

RobFromRedland
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by RobFromRedland » September 26th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Joseph:

As always, great work! In my brief overview of the trails I'm familiar with, I have to say the FS data is highly suspect. Their "Trail Class" designations are way off on some trails I think. I was impressed to see that they do actually have trail info pages for trails - how you find them from the new FS site is a mystery to me. I've given up using the FS website. After they made the change to the new "portal", it became less than useless to me. Maybe someday they will make it useful again and easy to find things.

As far as data for your project, if there is anything from the map I did up for the Clackamas district (which is similar to what you've done, except with data I've compiled myself), feel free to use it as you see fit:

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... Trails.kmz

I look forward to seeing what else you can dream up!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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vibramhead
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Re: New online map with trail mileage - Mt Hood NF

Post by vibramhead » September 27th, 2013, 7:26 am

What a great tool, Joseph! Thanks for creating it. The trail network looks pretty comprehensive, but I noticed that a few are missing: Eagle Creek, Herman Creek, Nick Eaton Ridge, Tanner Butte, and all the Gorge trails west of Tanner Ck.

As for Android, I couldn't get it to work on my Droid Razr, but it works fine on my Nexus 7.
Time spent hiking will not be deducted from your life.

GPS tracks on Wikiloc.

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