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Condition Surveying

GIS Trail Mapping & Trail Condition Surveying

With over 30 years of trailbuilding behind me, I use my experience and equipment to perform condition surveys for you. I identify objects that have failed, that are needed, or that are a future problem. Services include digital photos of the objects and identification of their locations. This is entered in the trail log as a feature and shows on the map or report. All trail (line) information may be broken down into segmented lengths according to their condition, with "Routine Maintenance" being best condition, to "Install New" being worst condition. This could be considered equivalent to a home inspector inspecting a house before sale or for insurance purposes. You want someone that has done it before.

This way, you pay only for the service as needed. No need for crew training, or mistakes in data collection resulting in lost time and expenses.

Each trail within the trail system is in its own file. Information can be shown or queried as an individual or as a group of trails. I provide both "raw data" and "differentially corrected" data, cleaned of vertices and exported to any of the projections and units listed below.

  • "Line" or trail information is recorded every five seconds for location accuracy. This way, any deviations in the trail are recorded.
  • "Points", or something along the trail such as a sign, have minimum of five position stamps each.
  • "Polygons" have area such as campgrounds, lakes or trailheads and are recorded similar to lines.



With state-of-the-art "Trimble Pro XRS" and "TSC1" GPS data loggers, the results are within one to two feet of the actual location.

For extended fieldwork, I use solar panels with doublers (SunWize Portable Energy Systems) with inverters to power battery chargers, laptop computers and satellite telephones.

When I data collect on ATV or motorcycle trails, I have and use low impact "fat tire" motorcycles so I do not damage the trails.

I use ArcView software for delivering GIS ready maps or "projects" to land owner or their representative on CD. Paper maps and, or reports are delivered for review. Graphic designers may request information in EPS or specific formats for final mapmaking or kiosk-size maps.


Custom Data Dictionaries

If you have your own GPS instrument and all you need is a trail specific data dictionary, I can design a simple to read and use data dictionary for you or your crews to use in the field on your own. I can tailor any type of trail data dictionary you specify. I can build data dictionaries with or without feature codes to assist in database management. Either by visits on site or verbal specifications requests by GIS specialists, I can prepare a data dictionary right for your specific application.


Data Dictionaries

Data dictionaries are the backbone of all data collection. A data dictionary is an electronic form enabling us to capture and record specific attribute information about three types of "objects": line segments, points, and area features.

Line Segments are used to describe linear objects such as trails. Line segments (part of a trail) can have many attributes such as:

  • Trail surface: surfaced or unsurfaced, surface type
  • Trail width: width in inches, single track? multi-user? bi-directional?
  • Trail users: extreme bicyclists and motorcycles? pedestrians and wheelchairs? equestrian-pedestrian? etc.
  • Trail grade: how steep is it?

Bridges and raised trail beds have different attributes and lengths. They are given their own segments with their own unique attributes. Attributes may include, for example:

  • abutments: wood, concrete or none;
  • border type: wood, rock or timber

Points are objects such as waterbars, gates, and signs. These objects have no length or width and are "nested" on the line segment. They have different attributes than lines. For example: Points are objects such as waterbars, gates, and signs. These objects have no length or width and are "nested" on the line segment. They have different attributes than lines. For example:

  • log, timber or rock waterbars
  • metal, wood or wire gates
  • plywood, plastic or metal signs on what kind of post

Areas can be lakes or meadows, parking lots, individual campsites, or campgrounds. Campsites, for instance, have different attributes from parking lots, campgrounds, lakes, or meadows.

How many obstacles or features are on the trail?

Obstacles or features may be man made points or lines such as gates, drainage structures, barriers, bridges, steps, etc. Features may be obstacles in some cases. Some user types may not be able to climb steps, navigate long steep grades, narrow trails, or get through gates, past waterbars or over roots for instance.


Anyone can build a map...but what condition is your trail in?

Line segments change as conditions change. For example, trail width and erosion may vary, and landslides or washed-out bridges need to be identified and repaired or replaced. Are there rocks or water in the trail? Is the raised trail bed holding up to traffic? Point features may be vandalized or stolen, and fallen trees need to be located. How many signs need replacing? How many and large are the trees? Areas need to be cleaned or repaired. No matter what you want to know, we can put it into a data dictionary. Information can then be put on a digital photograph or topo map, highlighting attributes and their unique values, or not.

Any feature may be turned "on" or "off" on the maps. This may be helpful for budgeting. For example if you want to have a repair crew go to only points that need repair, or segments that need to be realigned. From the same information, a public map can be made "hiding" the attribute information showing only the line.

Separate reports can be in spreadsheet or data base file form listing features and attributes in the order they are recorded.

Data Dictionaries may be as simple or complex as desired

Data Dictionary Features are:

  1. Lines
  2. Points
  3. Areas

Feature Attributes Are:

  • Date field for update of features
  • Menu Items include as many sub items as needed
  • Numeric Items may or may not have decimal places
  • Text Items may have up to 100 characters
  • Time field for tracking progress

Line, point and area features may have as many attribute values as needed:

  • All values may be included in final reports
  • All Line, Point and Area features can be projected with background maps

Data Dictionaries may include up to two separate code values (valuable for downloading into existing databases).

Generated attributes may have all or any combination of:

Feature Types:
  • PDOP Values
  • Feature Name
  • Total Positions
  • GPS Second
  • Correction Status
  • Time Recorded
  • Filtered Positions
  • Receiver Type
  • Update Status
  • Data Dictionary
  • Date Recorded
  • Data File Name
  • GPS Week
Line Features may include any of the following:
  • 2 Dimensional Line Length
  • Worst Vert. Precision
  • 3 Dimensional Line Length
  • Worst Horiz. Precision
  • Average Vert. Precision
  • Line ID
  • Average Horiz. Precision
Point Features may include any of the following:
  • Height above Elipsoid or Sea Level
  • Point Position
  • Vert. Precision
  • Point ID
  • Horiz.Precision
  • Standard Deviation


Area Features may include any of the following:
  • 2 Dimensional Area
  • Average Horiz. Precision
  • 2 Dimensional Perimeter
  • Worst Vert. Precision
  • 3 Dimensional Perimeter
  • Worst Horiz. Precision
  • Average Vert. Precision
  • Area ID
Coordinate System may be any configuration desired. Common Projections are, but are not limited to:
  • UTM
  • Lat-Long
  • State Plane


Data may be exported in many different formats, most common are:
  • ArcInfo
  • ArcView
  • AutoCad
  • Configurable ACII
  • dBase
  • many others



Position Filters include:
  • Realtime Differential
  • Realtime WAAS
  • RTK; fixed or Floating






Unit Measurement (area, distance, or velocity) can be any unit you want from:
  • Inches to Miles
  • Millimeters to Kilometers
  • Servey Feet
  • Chains
  • Links
  • Many others




After the trails is laid out and constructed, a trail log for permanent record should be made:
We use the latest sub-meter GPS technology to log the trail systems
We use your “Data Dictionary” or we will create one tailored to your needs
Trail logs are a blueprint of how the trail was built, in clear and precise language, maps and diagrams
Trail logs are a permanent record and may be referred to for maintenance, or relocation purposes
Trail logs show others where to rebuild (or not rebuild), structures that have failed due to age

We receive reports on the location of the satellites on the day of collection and work within the highest signal strength period possible. Whenever that is, day or night!

Accuracy after differential correction in certain conditions can be as low as within a CM.
After working in the field we bring the raw data into the office and perform differential correction before we send you the final collection data in any format.

Using the ArcView software program we also compile many layers of information and store it on CD ROM for area analysis. Put that information on Orthoquads, topo maps or plain line drawings and you have a pretty powerful presentation!

This is a “stand alone” service or may be incorporated into a total construction package.