Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Appalachian Trail Map: Interactive Google Map

One of the more useful Appalachian Trail maps I found when doing my section hike research was the ATC's interactive Google map. You'll find a large button and link to the interactive trail map on the right hand-side of the blog, just below the trailphone map.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has taken advantage of Google Maps' new ability to display ESRI shape files. The interactive trail map overlays a GIS shape file of the Appalachian Trail on the terrain version of Google maps. This allows hikers to zoom in to areas of the Appalachian Trail and get a feel for the lay of the terrain.

Additional shape files may be overlayed depicting parking areas and scenic vistas. A third option, which I find the most useful, is the ability to toggle the shelter layer to display the locations of the many wooden shelters that adorn the Appalachian Trail. I find the icons a bit large and would prefer an icon about half to quarter size as that would make the map a bit more precise.

Being in Google maps, one always has the option of switching to satellite view to get a feel for the ground cover. There been some talk of through hiking a backpack Google Streetmaps camera to add the ability to get a 360-degree view of any section of the Appalachian Trail. I'm not holding my breath, but it really would be something if the triple crown trails of long distance hiking were available in street-level view.

Take some time to get familiar with ATC's interactive Appalachian Trail map. Teach your "support team" to use it also.

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