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Most useful/useless trail-head maps


Karakoram
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Hi Hubbers. Theoretically, if you were to visit a new riding area for the first time, what kind of trail-head map would you find useful/useless . My interest in the topic is from a map/signage maintainer's point of view. This is biased towards having a minimum level of detail that would remain current for a good deal of time (e.g. the metro map-style map below). This would be the best value for money option for the trail owner, but may be in conflict with what users/riders actually prefer. The more detail a trail-head map contains, the quicker it becomes outdated. Also bear in mind that map information diminishes in value as familiarity  with the trail network builds.

Assumptions: It is assumed that the actual trails are well marked, colour coded (e.g. Red Route), and altered quite frequently as new sections are added or changed due to land-owner requests. All trail changes are regularly uploaded to a comprehensive record of the trail  network on Google Maps.

In my opinion, there are about three trail-head map-style options available, what would you prefer? (Please mention it if there are other options).

1) Full colour Satellite image with the most trails marked out, directions and distances.

image.jpeg.990726c3c74ce7f9df798dcf4817c6c3.jpeg

2) Simplified map background image with main trails, directions and distances.

image.png.529367709220b82aa8c2dea62805dd07.png

3) Metro map style image showing main trails with distances, directions and elevation.

image.jpeg.8441b03072f7095d0b9cc9567d9ed79f.jpeg

Do people actually read maps? It doesn't appear so, judging by the number of riders found off route and going in the wrong direction...

 

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I think most people (myself included) are spoiled with GPS's and struggle to remember/interpret maps. Trailforks works quite well but I think a QR code or something similar at the trailhead would make life a lot easier for the average user. Some comments on the pictures:

 

1. Satellite maps works well as you can easily orientate yourself in the area.

2. Simplified maps is nice but adding contour lines could make it a bit easier to orientate yourself in the area.

3. Metro maps works well if you want to plan a ride but routes should be marked well.

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Generally I follow the trail signage to see where to go on trails I visit for the first time. I only ever used maps once on Trail Forks to navigate up to the top of the Jonkershoek trails to get to Armageddon on my first attempt at it.

For the most part I don't even look at the trail map boards at the trail heads.

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8 minutes ago, Trashy said:

Quite honestly, all I want is well marked trails (uncommon in the Paarl network) and easy to find routes on Trailforks.

 

This! 

Mark the trails with a small sign on trail splits etc and use Trailforks for everything else. 

Key is that Trailsforks be updated by riders to show closed trails. 

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7 minutes ago, Trashy said:

Quite honestly, all I want is well marked trails (uncommon in the Paarl network) and easy to find routes on Trailforks.

 

agreed. marked colour-coded trails are more useful than maps.

info at trail center just needs to indicate for example - red route 40km 1200m ascent

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13 minutes ago, MTBeer said:

agreed. marked colour-coded trails are more useful than maps.

info at trail center just needs to indicate for example - red route 40km 1200m ascent

Exactly this, good trail marking, and just colours with distances and ascent at the trailhead

 

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I am quite pleased with the responses so far. What matters seems to be well marked colour coded trails, supported by minimal info board at the trail head and up to date Trail Forks map. It matches the hunch I have.

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1 hour ago, Trashy said:

Quite honestly, all I want is well marked trails (uncommon in the Paarl network) and easy to find routes on Trailforks.

 

 

I just need some idea of distance and elevation of the different routes - depending if I am alone or with the 10-year old.

 

Once the wheels turn I just need proper trail markings.

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44 minutes ago, Karakoram said:

I am quite pleased with the responses so far. What matters seems to be well marked colour coded trails, supported by minimal info board at the trail head and up to date Trail Forks map. It matches the hunch I have.

I find that often there is enough signage, but the markers don't always make sense.

They are either ambiguous to someone that doesn't know the trails, or they are used inconsistently.

It seems that the people placing the signage aren't doing it from the perspective of someone riding the trails for the first time.

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Just now, Trashy said:

I find that often there is enough signage, but the markers don't always make sense.

They are either ambiguous to someone that doesn't know the trails, or they are used inconsistently.

It seems that the people placing the signage aren't doing it from the perspective of someone riding the trails for the first time.

This.

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The ultimate for me would be nice simple direction boards at intersections along the way showing which direction major trails are in and the distance to them so you know you're on the right route while riding. The map at the entrance is great to plan a ride but I'm generally lost 500m later irrespective of the format. For the purpose they serve, I find the full color satellite image is the easiest to understand.

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3 hours ago, Karakoram said:

Hi Hubbers. Theoretically, if you were to visit a new riding area for the first time, what kind of trail-head map would you find useful/useless . My interest in the topic is from a map/signage maintainer's point of view. This is biased towards having a minimum level of detail that would remain current for a good deal of time (e.g. the metro map-style map below). This would be the best value for money option for the trail owner, but may be in conflict with what users/riders actually prefer. The more detail a trail-head map contains, the quicker it becomes outdated. Also bear in mind that map information diminishes in value as familiarity  with the trail network builds.

Assumptions: It is assumed that the actual trails are well marked, colour coded (e.g. Red Route), and altered quite frequently as new sections are added or changed due to land-owner requests. All trail changes are regularly uploaded to a comprehensive record of the trail  network on Google Maps.

In my opinion, there are about three trail-head map-style options available, what would you prefer? (Please mention it if there are other options).

1) Full colour Satellite image with the most trails marked out, directions and distances.

image.jpeg.990726c3c74ce7f9df798dcf4817c6c3.jpeg

2) Simplified map background image with main trails, directions and distances.

image.png.529367709220b82aa8c2dea62805dd07.png

3) Metro map style image showing main trails with distances, directions and elevation.

image.jpeg.8441b03072f7095d0b9cc9567d9ed79f.jpeg

Do people actually read maps? It doesn't appear so, judging by the number of riders found off route and going in the wrong direction...

 

me #1.

but i'm a map fundi and navigator, i'd like the 1:50 000 as the background actually.

 

for the general public, #3 seems like the best option actually

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For the sake of the OP’s question, I like the Sat image with the trail overlay in colour. 

I like looking at a map before riding. I have a photographic memory when it comes to routing/navigation (not hi-res, but enough to remember the general direction at key points).

Having GPX routes is an added bonus.

For me, having trails marked with direction (if it’s one way only) is key.

But I do like to get “lost”, as you find some gems when going off route; both road and off-road.

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