South Suburban and Highlands Ranch Colorado Recreation Trails by vivi07

VIEWS: 15 PAGES: 10

									South Suburban and Highlands Ranch Colorado Recreation Trails – Maps for Garmin GPS
Version 1, July 2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DISCLAIMER ............................................................................................................................................ 1 OVERVIEW ............................................................................................................................................... 1 CONTENTS OF THIS MAP SET ............................................................................................................ 4
Trail List ................................................................................................................................................................. 4 Map Coverage Area ............................................................................................................................................... 5 Waypoint Naming Standards ................................................................................................................................. 6

INSTALLATION AND USAGE ............................................................................................................... 7
Garmin................................................................................................................................................................... 7 Microsoft Streets and Trips .................................................................................................................................... 8 Google Earth .......................................................................................................................................................... 8 Uninstallation ........................................................................................................................................................ 9

HOW THESE MAPS WERE CREATED................................................................................................ 9 ABOUT THE AUTHOR ......................................................................................................................... 10

DISCLAIMER
This software is provided 'as is', without any express or implied warranty. In no event will the author(s) be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software. This software is for REFERENCE ONLY and is used completely at your own risk. By Installing this software, you agree that use of such is for REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY and that you are completely responsible to ensure your own safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

OVERVIEW
Those of us that live in the Denver, Colorado area are blessed to live in a city with hundreds of miles of recreation trails. In fact, the Denver area has more miles of trails than any other major metropolitan area in the United States. These trails are used for biking, hiking, running, horseback riding, and of course geocaching. Many of these trails, the Highline Canal and Platte River Trail in particular, are often in parts of the city where it feels more like the country, with abundant wildlife and mountain views.

Until now, these trails were only mapped on paper and the various web sites of the parks and recreation districts that managed them. This mapping effort undertaken by Carl Dubler provides a single source of digital maps of these trails for Garmin GPS units as well as Microsoft Streets & Trips and Google Earth software. The goal is to make using these trails easier and more enjoyable, particularly for geocaching. Carl plans to map all the trails in the Denver metro area, starting with the ones nearest his home in the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District. The maps created for Garmin GPS Units are “transparent” maps, meaning that they will add additional level of detail to your base map or other maps you have installed on your Garmin. On the left is an example Garmin map (taken from a Garmin eTrex Vista HCX) showing the Marcy Gulch trail in Highlands Ranch, with no base map “underneath” it. Without any base map detail, it is easy to see the trail and the 3 geocaches that are along it. Also note that the locations of public restrooms, parking lots, and even trailheads that access adjoining neighborhoods.

Next we have an example of the same map, this time superimposed on the Garmin “Topo US 2008” maps, available for sale from a variety of Garmin dealers. The topo maps are very detailed, making it more cluttered. However, the addition of these details might be helpful, in particular the location of the creek and the street that needs to be crossed in between the two geocaches. The level of detail is a personal preference of course, and base maps (as well as these trail maps) can be hidden and displayed as required in the map setup menu on your Garmin unit. If you don’t need the detail, you might find it easier to use the trail maps without any base maps.

Other examples where additional details are helpful with these trail maps can be seen in these two sample screens below. On the left, we see the Marcy Gulch geocache is very likely across the creek from the trail. On the right, we see a map of the Bluffs Regional Park in Douglas County. The additional detail shows that from the parking and restrooms, it is approximately a 250 ft ascent to the top of the hill via the “Tepe” trail (each contour line represents 50 ft of elevation).

2

There is a growing amateur-led effort in the geocaching community to provide non-commercial topographic maps for free. If you would like to try the free Colorado topographic maps as a base map, click here for more information. Next is an example of the trail maps as seen in Microsoft Streets and trips:

Microsoft Streets and Trips can be a very useful tool to plan geocaching, biking, and other trips on the trails. Note that geocaches are represented by blue dots, and the trails are shown in various other colors. This gives the user an excellent overview of what is available in the area and the various trails that can be used to get there. Plus, it is fully available off-line, for times where an internet connection is not possible. Finally, for those who want to see an integrated view of street, satellite, and trail maps this example is shown in Google Earth:

3

The trails are shown in a magenta color. Note the location of parking areas, restrooms, and geocaches. Also note that several neighborhood access trailheads are shown. For example, in the center-left of the map you see “SG Access 1” indicating where a user could access on-street parking (if legally available), and a small concrete path to quickly reach the Spring Gulch trail and the “Riddle me this” geocache.

CONTENTS OF THIS MAP SET
This map set contains 40 trails covering a total distance of 118.29 miles. In addition, the map contains locations of 90 trailheads, 33 public restrooms, and 49 parking areas. Please note that many of the restrooms are closed in the winter months, and several of them are not permanent or do not have running water.

Trail List
Trail Belleview Park Big Dry Creek Big Dry East Big Dry West Bluffs Loop Bluffs Overlook District Englewood South Suburban Metro Metro Douglas Cnty Douglas Cnty Mileage 1.82 3.53 1.51 5.04 2.69 0.26 Trailheads 1 3 2 3 0 0 Restrooms 2 2 1 1 1 0 Parking 2 2 1 1 1 0

4

Bluffs Tepe Carriage Club Centennial Cheese Ranch Cougar Run Dad Clark Diamond K East Fork East-West Regional Falcon Firelight Foothills Foxridge Grand View Greenwood West Loop Highline Canal HR Highline Canal South Suburban Homestead Lee Gulch Little Dry Creek Marcy Gulch Middle Fork Mountain Vista Northridge Platte River Plum Valley South Platte Park Spring Gulch Vista Weeping Willow Welte West Fork Wildcat Willow Creek

Douglas Cnty
Carriage Club HOA

0.22 1.74 8.24 2.31 0.68 4.87 1.88 0.88 1.73 1.13 1.04 3.80 1.09 3.51 3.76 4.11 19.04 1.28 4.42 3.75 3.47 1.96 0.51 1.55 7.28 1.07 1.51 3.02 1.21 0.13 0.63 1.36 4.09 6.17

0 4 6 3 0 5 2 2 0 1 0 3 3 4 5 0 6 4 4 3 3 4 0 2 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 5 5

0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 2 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 2 1 0 2 0 0 2 0 10 0 1 2 3 0 0 1 3 1 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 4

Metro Metro Metro Metro Metro Metro Douglas Cnty Metro Firelight HOA Metro Foxridge HOA Metro Greenwood Vlg Metro South Suburban Homestead HOA South Suburban South Suburban Metro Metro Metro Metro South Suburban Metro South Suburban Metro Metro Metro Metro Metro Metro South Suburban

Map Coverage Area
As shown on the map below, the coverage area is the south-central suburbs of Denver, bordered by Hampden street on the North, Daniels Park Road on the South, the South Platte River on the West, and Interstate 25 on the East. For reference purposes, the Highline Canal Trail is the blue trail running more or less diagonally from the southwest to the northeast for a length of over 23 miles:
5

Waypoint Naming Standards
This map set contains 3 types of waypoints: trailheads, restrooms, and parking lots. The restrooms are all labeled simply as “restrooms.” The trailheads and parking lots all have unique names that include an abbreviation of the trail they serve. For example, a Willow Creek Trail parking lot will be called “WC Parking 1” or a trailhead serving the Big Dry Creek Trail will be called “BDC Access 3.” This is important to note when using the maps so you can return to your starting location easily.

6

INSTALLATION AND USAGE
Garmin
To use these maps with a Garmin GPS unit, you will need:    Garmin GPS that is mapping compatible Garmin MapSource installed on your personal computer Successfully connect your Garmin to your personal computer (USB connection strongly recommended)

Note: installing this map (as well as any other map from any other source) will overwrite existing maps on your Garmin. This is standard MapSource behavior. Do not install unless you know how to reinstall your existing map sets. 1. Download DEN_Trails1.zip from the web site. 2. Save the files and run DEN_Trails1.exe. Follow the installation wizard. 3. When completed, open MapSource. Choose “DEN_Trails1” from your map list.

4. The map shows on the screen. 5. Choose the map tool on the toolbar and then click the center of the map. It will turn the map a light shade of pink to indicate you have selected the map.

7

6. Select any other maps you wish to load—in particular any previously installed maps that will be overwritten by MapSource. In this example, I will load the trail maps as well as 4 other maps from the Topo 2008 product.

7. Connect your GPS unit and then click the “Send to Device” button on the toolbar. The maps will load onto your GPS and the GPS unit will reboot.

For more information on how to use maps on your Garmin device, see this tutorial.

Microsoft Streets and Trips
1. Download DEN_Trails1.zip from the web site and save it to disk. 2. Unzip the files and open DEN_Trails1.est in Streets and Trips. If you want to show geocaches in streets and trips, simply import them into this map and save it with a different file name. It is recommended to use a tool like GSAK to export cache information in Streets and Trips format. GPSBabel is a free utility that can also export GPX and LOC files from geocaching.com to Streets and Trips format (as well as dozens of other formats).

Google Earth
1. Download DEN_Trails1.zip from the web site and save it to disk. 2. Unzip the files and save DEN_Trails1.kml. 3. Choose File|Open and open the DEN_Trails1.kml file.

8

4. In the “Places” list on the left-hand side of the screen, you will see the trails and waypoints listed. You can select all or some of the trails and waypoints, and double click to “fly” directly to the trail or waypoint on the map:

If you want to show geocaches in Google Earth, there are many tools to do this including a GSAK Macro (the author’s preferred method), or you can simply use the KML export feature available in Geocaching.com.

Uninstallation
To remove the maps from your computer and from MapSource, go to the Windows control panel and choose the option to add/remove programs. In the list of installed software, look for “DEN_Trails1 Map Set for Garmin” and double-click it. The removal will happen immediately with no confirmation. This will not remove the maps from your Garmin GPS unit. See your Garmin documentation for information on how to remove a map from your specific device.

HOW THESE MAPS WERE CREATED
Many amateur-created maps are based on publicly-available topographic and geographic databases (from the USGS, mainly), and creating the maps is a task of compiling the data into a Garmin-compatible format. In this case, none of the trails had ever been digitized before, or if
9

they had, the digital files are not available publicly. So the author digitized the trails by hand, using Google Earth. This is done by tracing the satellite images of the trails directly on a computer using a mouse or digital pen, then saving them to Google Earth format (KML), collating the results in a digital map, and then exporting and compiling for Garmin (as well as Microsoft Streets and Trips in this case). The author’s extensive knowledge of the trail system made the task of digitizing much easier. The following software was used in the process, all of it acquired for free:      Google Earth to digitize the trails and plot waypoints in KML format GPSBabel to convert Google Earth KML files into GPX and EST formats MapEdit and cpgsMapper to build the actual map and export it into Garmin format MapSet Toolkit to build the MapSource index files NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) to create the installation executables (more information here).

A tutorial on how to make all this work together to build a map is available here. If you attempt to make your own digital maps, it will become obvious to you that this is something the GPS industry in general does not want you to do, given the complete lack of guidance from GPS manufacturers and the total dependence the mapmaker has on utilities and information provided by the goodwill of knowledgeable amateurs. This is probably because GPS companies would like to make money by selling digital maps, and equipping the advanced GPS user with the knowledge or tools to do so is not in their best interest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carl Dubler is a lifelong Colorado resident who lives in Centennial. He has traveled hundreds of miles by bike and foot along the various Front Range trails. His wide-ranging interests include GPS technology, geography, and cartography, and he would rather read a good atlas than a novel. He and his kids go geocaching often, and Carl is also training to run a marathon in October of 2008, utilizing the local trails extensively. It saddens him to see fellow runners and bikers making their way along busy and crowded streets when there is a tranquil trail nearby. If they only knew! Carl’s “day job” is as a product manager for a major software company. He has worked in the software industry for over 20 years. Carl can be reached by email if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for the maps: carl@carldubler.com.

10


								
To top