About the Network
The National Trails System GIS Network was formed in 2011 and includes representatives from agencies that administer national trails as well as members of trail associations, scholars conducting trail research, and affiliates from educational institutions. Our mission is to connect the diverse array of staff and partners who use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping products in their work as well as to facilitate the sharing of information and tools that help us do our jobs more efficiently and innovatively. The network is open to all who are interested.
More information on joining the National Trails System GIS Network
Find out about upcoming webinars and connect with National Trails System GIS Network members by joining the NTS GIS Network email list. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to join. If you’d like to present or have a presentation topic suggestion, please let us know!
Monthly Webinar Series
Join fellow GIS Professionals and Trail Advocates from across the country on our monthly webinars hosted on the third Tuesday of each month.
Presentation: Haden Macbeth, Florida National Scenic Trail, US Forest Service Southern Region, Florida State University Graduate Intern
Trail Gap Analysis – Using Priority Parcel Modeling
Haden presented on a GIS model that can be used to evaluate parcels within trail gaps based on reroute criteria established in the Florida National Scenic Trail Comprehensive Plan.
Presentation: Sarah E. Rivera and Brian Deaton, GIS Specialists for National Trails, National Park Service
National Trails Near Real-Time Mapping of the Pony Express Re-Ride
The National Trails office (NTIR) continues working with partners in innovative ways using various GIS technologies to engage and inform the public of the National Historic Trails. NTIR recently coordinated with the National Pony Express Association (NPEA) to redevelop the workflow and platform for displaying near real-time data for the Pony Express Re-Ride. This included utilizing the data interoperability extension for ESRI ArcGIS Pro and creating an ArcGIS Online web app to display the re-ride data. The annual commemorative re-ride conducted by members of NPEA along the Pony Express National Historic Trail recreates the 18 operational months of the Pony Express between April 1860 and October 1861. Beginning on June 10, 2019 in St. Joseph, Missouri, riders traveled more than 1,800 miles from station to station traversing eight states while carrying a SPOT GPS tracking device within a mochila saddlebag to allow the public to follow riders along the trail until their final station in Sacramento, CA.
Presentation: Taylor Willow, Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and Geospatial Resource Assistant, USFS Rocky Mountain Regional Office
Spatially Tracking CDT Project Work to Improve Accountability and Identify Trends
Each year, the Continental Divide Trail Administrator allocates CDT funding to projects through an online proposal system. This process was
previously based in SharePoint and included no spatial component other than an optional shapefile or map attachment. The Trail
Administrator required the addition of spatial locations for projects to help track work on the CDT through time, and to improve
accountability for funding decisions.
In order to improve efficiency, we developed an integrated workflow using SharePoint to collect and store project proposal information,
Survey123 to collect and store spatial locations for projects, and ArcGIS Online web mapping to display the points and information together.
The web map is filterable by year and funding decision, enabling the Trail Administrator to view the distribution of the current year’s
proposals and to take a retrospective look at historical funding and notice any spatial patterns that may be emerging.
Presentation: Elizabeth McCartney, Project Manager, National Digital Trails, National Geospatial Program, U.S Geological Survey
National Digital Trails – Project Update
The National Digital Trails Network project was developed in response to the Department of Interior’s vision to
expand recreational opportunities on the Nation’s public lands.
Our Nation is home to a vast network of recreational trails traveled by millions of citizens. The trails are managed by
numerous organizations and jurisdictions and do not form a coherent, connected network. The overall goal of this
project is to provide the data and the tools to enable land managers to visualize opportunities to increase the
connectivity within this network.
Join us for a progress report on our three major goals: (1) create a decision support tool to assist land managers in
identifying connections between trails; (2) create a robust national digital trails network; and (3) develop a mobile
responsive editor for maintaining trails.
Presentation: Russell Hirschler, Executive Director of the Upper Valley Trails Alliance and Claire Polfus, Center for Community GIS
21st Century Way to Attract Trail Users: On-Line Trail Finder
We will share a new online trail database: Trail Finder – a cooperative, web-based database showing publicly accessible trails throughout New Hampshire and Vermont (with a separate, similar program in Maine). The project aims to connect people to publicly accessible trails, increasing the public’s access to healthy, outdoor recreational opportunities in their own communities.
Unlike other open source databases where any public information can be added, Trail Finder uses only information that is approved by the landowner and trail manager. Collaboration among conservation landowners, trail groups, and towns are contributing trails’ data, including landownership and allowable uses, in a single, GIS web-based platform. The project works with organizations, towns, and willing landowners to digitally map existing trails and record public access and allowable trail uses. Trail encourages people to get outside, be active, and connect with amazing conserved lands. We will explore the extra incentives and fun features in Trail Finder.
Presentation: Angie Southwould, NPS Alaska Region, Lead GIS Data Manager
Maintaining Trail Data in Alaska Region Parks
After working with Trail Specialists and Facility Managers in Alaska parks, the Alaska Region GIS Team designed a regional Trail Spatial Data Standard in 2013 intended to streamline field data collection and work as seamlessly as possible with the NPS Facilities Management Software System (FMSS). In the six years since initial implementation, we’ve learned many lessons that have helped us make continual improvements to the design and workflows surrounding data collection and maintenance. Please join us to learn more about this journey.
Presentation: Ryan Branciforte, OuterSpatial and Jeremy Wimpey, Applied Trails Research
GIS Support and Analyses along the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail
This session will review how researchers, stewards and land managers are leveraging GIS to help visualize visitor travel patterns along the PCT and AT and inform improved trail management and design to mitigate/minimize impacts to natural resources, and manage visitor use to achieve protection and access mandates. In addition, land managers are starting to leverage modern mobile apps to extend traditional GIS techniques and deepen the engagement of recreationists to inform and provide tools to improve visitor use management.
Presentation: Matt Able, US Forest Service
Survey123 Trail Management Tools
How the Forest Service is developing electronic tools to quickly and efficiently monitor and manage trail conditions. A practical approach that can be utilized by staff, volunteers, or even the general public to give the people responsible for trails accurate, up-to-date trail data to make better management decisions.
Presentation: Greg Matthews, COU Coordinator, User Engagement, US Geological Survey
Increase Access and Expand Recreational Opportunities on the Nation’s Public Lands by Connecting Trail Systems
Our Nation is home to a vast network of recreational trails traveled by millions of citizens. This trail network varies in age from hundreds of years old to brand new and varies in purpose from recreation to providing critical transportation routes. The trails also vary by managing organization. Because of this varied legacy, existing trails do not form a coherent, connected network. The overall objective of this project is to increase the connectivity within this network.
Presentation: Don Owen, Partnership for the National Trails System and Mitchel Hannon, Trust for Public Lands
A Corridor Protection Gap Analysis and Connectivity Assessment for National Trails
The Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS), in collaboration with the Trust for Public Land, will utilize an integrated Geographic Information System (GIS) approach to identify, map, and prioritize trail protection projects throughout the National Trails System. This effort will dovetail with the Interactive Map of the National Trails System, which utilizes the ArcGIS Online platform to create a single online map for all 30 National Scenic and National Historic Trails and their publicly available data.
Presentation: Ryan Abrahamsen, Terrain 360
Using Geospatially Referenced Machine Learning for Invasive Species Detection in a 360° Virtual Tour
This presentation will cover Terrain 360’s project utilizing Machine Learning to detect invasive species (Phragmites Australis) in geospatially referenced 360° images, crowd sourced imagery, and drone imagery. The presentation will also briefly showcase the 360° virtual tour of the Huron River, a national designated water trail.
Presentation: Peder Nelson, Instructor, Oregon State University
A new citizen science tool for mapping and monitoring the National Trail System with the GLOBE Observer mobile app
Citizen science is a great way to help trail users to connect with and learn about the environment while making useful contributions to science and land management. In this presentation, I will introduce the GLOBE Observer (GO) citizen science project and explore how it could be used for the mapping, measuring, and monitoring of the National Trail System.
What is GLOBE Observer (GO)?
With the free GLOBE Observer mobile app, recreationists use their smart phones to make observations with photos and text about the environment, wherever they find themselves. These data are geographically linked to satellite images and provide more details of Earth’s surface than we tend to get from satellites. They can compare their observations to those of others around the world. Importantly, land managers can use the submitted data to improve their own geospatial data, outreach activities, or engage new trail users. Scientists are using this data to improve maps of forest recovery after fires, tracking invasive species, and monitoring trail conditions.
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. It is sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of State. . The app is free from the App Store and Google Play. Once downloaded, data can be collected while offline. https://observer.globe.gov/
Presentation: Lisa Johnson, PAD-US Coordinator, Boise State University
The New and Improved PAD-US 2.0
The U.S. protected areas network, represented by PAD-US, is the largest and most diverse in the world. Learn how the new PAD-US 2.0 database supports users by separating components such as fee owned parcels, overlapping designations, easements, Proclamation boundaries and marine areas for various applications. This is a major update of federal lands, 30 states, and much more.
Hear about the progress of the FGDC Federal Lands Working Group in developing the federal estate for PAD-US 2.0, including updates from the Federal Recreation Council using PAD-US to help people find public land. Learn about recommended guidance for base map developers and view summary reports for the nation, states, or by agency. Discuss inventory completeness estimates, efforts to update database technology and complete PAD-US by 2020. Ask questions or share feedback to improve your experience with PAD-US.
Presentation: Adam Calkins, U.S. Forest Service and Dr. Dale Hamilton, Northwest Nazarene University
Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Photogrammetrics, and Machine Learning to Record Archaeological Sites and Historic Trails.
Archaeologists have two goals, to record known sites and locate new ones. In 2018, the Boise National Forest began thinking outside the box to accomplish these objectives. We signed an agreement with Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) to begin using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or drones) to record and find archaeological sites. Over the summer of 2018, we recorded over 2,000 acres of National Forest Land with a UAS. While most of the work was done on historic mining sites, we also recorded small sections of historic railroad grade. Sections of the Oregon Trail were recorded in 2017. In addition to recording sites, undergraduate students at NNU have developed Machine Learning algorithms to locate archaeological artifacts and features. One of these algorithms can locate historic metal fragments (cans, stoves, sheet metal, etc.), and another can locate linear features, such as roads and trails. The techniques of UAS data collection and Machine Learning algorithms, being developed by NNU and the Boise National Forest, will help federal agencies and private organizations locate, record, and manage archaeological sites and historic trails. Our presentation focuses on the genesis of this partnership, methods for data collection, and the results.
Presentation: Candace Bogart, Regional GIS Coordinator, U.S. Forest Service
Creating an Authoritative Data Source for the Arizona National Scenic Trail
This presentation will share the strategy developed under an Esri EAP agreement to create an authoritative data source for the entire AZ National Scenic Trail: its geography and associated attributes. The workflow will allow partner agencies to submit proposed alignment changes via ArcGIS Server Feature Services. Data governance is to be provided by USDA Forest Service Region 3 data stewards as described in the Arizona National Scenic Trail Alignment Data Governance. Follow-up discussion reiterated Esri’s finding, “Although this geodatabase environment and workflows were designed for the AZNST alignment in mind, they could generally be used for any national trail. Standardizing the ways proposed updates are sent to the managing agency and the workflows that include data governance could be useful for other national trails or other kinds of projects where GIS data updates come from multiple sources.” Sharing the authoritative data is to be accomplished via a map service in ArcGIS Server with download capability enabled.
Presentation: Sarah Rivera, GIS Specialist, NPS National Trails Intermountain Region
The National Trails Intermountain Region’s Sign Plan Program
Presentation: Matt Robinson, GIS Specialist, Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Update on National Trails System Web Map and 50th Anniversary Map
An update and discussion on the present National Trails System web mapping effort and 50th Anniversary Map. Please review the web map and be ready to discuss and provide feedback. The web map can be viewed at: https://nps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d89951079a374f28ab4a3b9fc41025dd
Presentation: Rob Chohan, Mobile Architect, 𝘦π Maps
Creating Mobile-first Offline Maps using Authoritative Trails Data
𝘦π Maps are designed with mobile in mind from the beginning. “Mobile-first” means that the customers experience is great once they download the app. And if the application is backcountry or search and rescue, then the customer is ready to “go well prepared”. We build our maps using Authoritative Trails data from the US Forest Service and US Geologic Survey. We take care to use shaded relief and 40 foot contours from the USGS. We also adhere to the National Park Service iconography for a consistent experience. We will also discuss some of the image compression and data reduction techniques that we use to fit the entire map fits in the mobile app.
Presentation: Guthrie Alexander, Conservation Program Manager, Continental Divide Trail Coalition; Slide Kelly, GIS/Conservation Seasonal Specialist, Continental Divide Trail Coalition
Producing Half Mile Scale Hiking Maps for the Continental Divide Trail
The CDTC has never produced a map set suitable for hiking the CDT that highlights the NST route. The existing 3rd party produced maps that have either a high cost to trail users or provided hiking information that is not always consistent with the intent or management direction of the CDT. Our goal was to produce a free community resource for the CDT using modern and authoritative data in a manner that was easy to maintain and update for the future.
Presentation: Brian Riordan, Customer Success Lead, Strava Metro
Big Data for Monitoring Trails and Recreation
This is presentation is an exploration of an app-based big data solution to see how groups have been using Strava to gain insights into bike/ped movements on trail networks. It looks at how big data is being used and why it is so key for this data to be used in new ways by groups with large regions of land and trail networks. We will dive into the growth of Strava, Geo functions around the company and how Strava Metro is being used now to monitor trail systems. We will also discuss the future of app technology and explore how to use the information to make the best planning and investment choices. Here is a chance to learn about a 5+ trillion point GPS database and get feedback to the top of Strava. Understand what is available now to help with mapping, editing, elevation and trail use.
Discussion: Sarah Quinn, External Renewable Energy Program Lead, National Park Service; Jill Jensen, Archaeologist, Old Spanish Trail, National Park Service
Balancing Public Data with Resource Protection
How can we create maps and provide data easily while protecting the resources of our National Trails? How can we best and responsibly represent trail resources? Join us for a discussion with representatives from the National Park Service’s Environmental Compliance, Renewable Energy, and Resource Protection on the benefits and risks of mapping and how better maps can lead to better resource conflict avoidance and protection.
Presentation: Chelsea Bodamer, Partnership for the National Trails Sytem
NPS ArcGIS Open Data
The Partnership for the National Trails System has recently developed a new online forum. Before its official release to the public, Chelsea would like to present the new interface, and open the discussion up for feedback and advice from the NTS GIS community.
Presentation: Paul Voris, National Park Service
NPS ArcGIS Open Data
NPS ArcGIS Open Data is a public facing website where data can be discovered and shared with users or referenced in IRMA and can be easily downloaded in a variety of formats. The site collects data from groups designated as Open Data within our organization and presents it to the public in an easy to use interface. The data can be used directly from a service such as a hosted feature service or map service or it can be downloaded as a Shapefiles, File GeoDatabases, or accessed through the GeoJSON API.
Presentation: Lisa Johnson, Boise State University
America’s Public Parks and Protected Areas: Introducing the Improved Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US)
America’s tremendous asset base of protected areas is critical for conservation planning, natural resource management, outdoor recreation, public health and more. These include national parks and forests, wildlife sanctuaries, state beaches and parks, county open space, city parks, land trust preserves, conservation easements, marine protected areas and more. Altogether, over 3 billion acres (with overlapping designations) are managed by thousands of public agencies and non-proﬁt organizations that serve current and future generations. A complete and current database of these places is a critical tool to achieve organizational missions across jurisdictions. The 2016 PAD-US update (1.4), published by USGS, includes the best available geospatial representation of federal, state and other protected areas with descriptors like owner / manager name, designation type, unit name and other information useful for various applications. Join us to learn about America’s oﬃcial inventory of protected areas, applications, relationships to National Trails data, our strategy to complete the inventory by 2020, viewers, tools and opportunities to engage.
Discussion: Matthew Rowbotham, North Country Trail Association
Developing a Web Forum for National Trails System GIS
Topics for discussion may include: included content, strategies for implementation, web hosting, and a discussion of examples. Your participation is welcomed and encouraged!
Discussion: Peter Bonsall, National Park Service
Developing a comprehensive National Trails System GIS data layer and web map
In September, a concerted effort was made to aggregate a National Trails System GIS layer for use in Argon National Laboratory’s energy corridor assessment tool. As a result, all of the National Trails System data is now aggregated in one location. The next step is to discuss how we can come to a consensus and make a public GIS layer, especially in light of the National Trails System Act 50th Anniversary. Topics for discussion may include 1) Strategy for implementation; 2) FTDS attributes; 3) Hosting the data; and 4) How to address sensitivity issues.
Presentation: Ryan Abrahamsen, Terrain 360
Virtually Touring the National Trails – Providing 360° Imagery and Interactive Panoramic Maps along National Trails and Waterways
Terrain360 has been commissioned to map the waterways of the Captain John Smith National Scenic Trail. We will discuss our process, data management, challenges for large scale projects and ways to use and incorporate and disseminate this data. We will also discuss other projects including using machine learning object detection in our imagery, crowd sourcing imagery and GIS data for hiking trails and possible partnership with REI (adventure projects) to map National scenic trails and national parks.
Are you interested in being a presenter for the National Trails System GIS Network or do you have a topic to suggest? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com