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The amount of data for maps available today is mindboggling. As you acquire data for your mapping project it is wise to keep the following ideas in mind:

  • Garbage in equals garbage out. If your data is not correct and you can’t make it better, do not use it.
  • Check your coordinate system. As you compile data, you will need to match geographic references.
  • Prioritize for generalization and scale. Get data that matches the level of detail required for the project.

Existing and proposed depicted on your map trails should include:

  • Trailheads and facilities
  • Important intersections
  • Hazards/obstructions (fences, water crossings, hike-a-bike sections)
  • Beginning and end of trail sections

Base map layers should depict at least these attributes:

  • Choose between elevation lines or shaded-relief topography
  • Bodies of water
  • Area streets
  • Roads, highways, landmarks
  • Boundaries (public/private lands)

Map labels will highlight at least this information:

  • Trailheads
  • Highway exits
  • Trail segments
  • Trail segment mileage
  • Roads that intersect the trail or are used for access
  • Towns, cities and other communities

You might also considering adding these elements of supporting data to your map -- these layers of information are optional, but highly recommended:

  • Background and history of the trails
  • Elevation profiles for trails
  • Text trail descriptions -- perhaps 100-300 words each
  • Logos for partner organizations
  • Special seasonal considerations -- wildlife closures, frequent storms
  • Climate charts – temperature and precipitation
  • Photos (include copyright marks and credits)
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