Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Trail Map: Utah Arapeen Trail System

A few weeks back I announced that we had split our Nevada ATV rides into several separate maps. The Mesquite-Bunkerville and Gold Butte trails have been given their own files.

Well, the addition of the Arapeen Trail System has made the Utah Trails file so large that it just begged to be split — so I did. [For a free Google Earth file of this offroad route see: Utah Arapeen Trail System]

In a previous post I whined a bit that it had been quite difficult to produce the Google Earth maps of this offroad trail system. The available maps, some even produced by the USFS, were not accurate or detailed enough to produce a .kml file.

I also mentioned that the project had become a personal quest of sorts, largely due to the fact that grandpa Allred constructed most of the roads in the system during his time in the USFS. I even stayed with him on the mountain during summer visits, long before there were ATV's or offroading was an "official" sport.

We had the sky up there, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss whether they was made or just happened.”
Samuel Clemmens, Mark Twain

I can announce that the file is complete (mostly) and posted. What it took to create the trails was to scan two of the available maps into graphic files, then create an image overlay in Google Earth. I needed to "register" the overlays as exact as was possible to known coordinates.

Then, I needed to zoom into the satellite photo images and try to locate the "real" trail even close to the brochures'. Once found, I then hand-drew the coordinates running directly on top of the actual satellite trail image.

All that was before my usual writing of the .kml file code needed for presentation on my site.

Why bother, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked!. First, I can't stand to have to pay for maps which were drawn with what should be public data, created with taxpayers money.

Second, none of the available maps are actually accurate enough to show all the turns and twists and crossroads like what you actually see when you are out on the road.

And, Third, and probably most important, once you have access to GPS track coordinates like I create, you can upload them into your GPS device and follow them around the mountain! And, if you want, print them on paper.

Now I must issue a call for help - especially to those of you who are going to ride the Arapeen Trail ATV jamboree in a few weeks - several of the trails need actual ride confirmation. As you can imagine, the trails are hard to see from a satellite! Especially when they go under trees and over solid rock.

For the benefit of all, please take the time to turn on your GPS during the ride and submit them to me for inclusion. (Actual ride coordinates trump those on a map any time.)


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