Sometimes I have to put text on a path

Friday, August 26, 2011

case study: Europe, US and "e-trailblazing" services; list kml tourism file; wikipedia and long-distance paths (LDP); LDP's database; walking, trek, trekking, hiking, rambling, bushwalking, mountain climbing; tracks, line, routes; guidebook;

How to Create a Better Trail Map?
The goal of this post is a brief screening of different approaches about e-services for searching/publishing walking, trek, trekking, hiking, rambling, bushwalking, mountain climbing...
IN RED: my best choices

see also:

see one of my blog (in french) for micro-local geo-WebServices :
There are some of my javascripts...

It is an example of the complex aggregator services.
We have to aggregate SEVEN components of this "GIS-social-geocoding-web mapping": 
A) The global maps/routes/directions SERVERS (; google maps, Bing Maps, Map Quest, Maps Nokia; Open Street Map) allow 4 services:
  1.  online view/manipulate your map/directions (and print)
  2. "save/open" with an URL
  3. "save" with an iframe (HTML)
  4. "save/open" with  HTML+javascript codes (or other "languages" flash, silverlight, javaME...)
Local maps cover only part of the earth surface, and may be more detailed than the global ones:

B) We have many geographic information systems software,
C) We have many GIS products (GPS, cell phones, cam/apparatus with automatic or semi-automatic geo tag, meteo/climate systems, ...) 
D) geography is a social science then there are many complex metadata. There are a lot of personal pages/sites/blog relating a trek.
E) we already have excellent guidebooks then e-guidebooks must be better or offer different services...
F) official websites: official paths (national and regional) and funded trails organizations
G) laws, all approaches for preserving the natural resources...

The problem of interoperability is THE big problem of web 2.0 applications/services with User Generated Content, not only in GIS-geocoding-web mapping... (just the routes, no problem: GPX or KML files, but the main problem is all other aspects of a route (culture, point of interest...)
Participatory GIS  is an emergent practice; developing out of participatory approaches to planning and spatial information and communication management. Traditional knowledge GIS could help in debates over land rights and resource management in ecologically sensitive areas. Interests of local residents in these regions often conflict with those of migrant workers, state conservation units, and domestic and foreign mining or logging enterprises.
example: ( or WikiMapia (; WikiMapia API: is a online map imaging resource that combines Google Maps with a wiki system (mainly POI and a few trails).

Goodchild, M.F. (2007). "Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography". GeoJournal 69 (4): 211–221; DOI:
Volunteered Geographic Information is the harnessing of tools to create, assemble, and disseminate geographic data provided voluntarily by individuals. Sites such as Wikimapia and OpenStreetMap are empowering citizens to create a global patchwork of geographic information, while Google Earth and other virtual globes are encouraging volunteers to develop interesting applications using their own data. I review this phenomenon, and examine associated issues: what drives people to do this, how accurate are the results,will they threaten individual privacy, and how can they augment more conventional sources? I compare this new phenomenon to more traditional citizen science and the role of the amateur in geographic observation.

Here i try to show how this problem is complex with an "ex-ample" (case study): management, organization, sharing, writing collaborative e-handbook of walking, trek, trekking, hiking, rambling, bushwalking, mountain climbing... Definition of trek:

The question is how to perform "e-trailblazing" with the best collaborative content management and multipath/pointOfInterest saving/searching/publishing?

There are many methods used for blazing trails Moreover blaze type might also be mixed when different user groups (horse riders, mountain bikers, snowmobilers...) are on the same trail.
There are many methods used for e-trailblazing: compare the choice of french GR (Long Distance Footpaths Network) and the choice of german Long Distance Footpaths Network and the excellent choice of the UK Searchable LDP's Database

The guidebooks are still the best way to prepare a Long or One-day Distance Footpaths. They contains not only the path/elevation data/maps but also many metadata (tourisme, guesthouse, shelders, laws, toilets (in urban trip), prices of parcs, museum...). Everytrail offers many e-guides (Mobile Travel Guides):
try these three guides in Paris (only 3; DATA @ august 2011), availables for iphone and android:

some wikipedia articles are e-guidebooks, see "wikipedia" below.

google earth and kml add-ons:
(only guide; no map)
(guide and maps)
(a little guide, no maps)
(many waypoints but only one link to home of sud-africa tourism sites)

some sites:

 you can upload your files (.GPX or .TRK from  CompeGPS) and save trails (.GPX or .KML).
Good "one-click service" to add a trail if you have found GPX file link.
2); You dowload GPX or KML or you can embed on you blog.
4) many tools (but only for routes).

-------------Europe; differences between states 
In Europe ( there are many differences of this "geo-social domain".
 for european long-distance trails, see and "wikipedia" below.

France has an extensive network of footpaths throughout the country. More than 60000 km of long distance footpaths and 120000 km of local footpaths have been created with IGN maps and many guidebooks. The Fédération Francaise de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP) is the organization behind the long distance footpaths - les sentiers de grande randonnée (GR) which exist all over the country (see below).
FFRP, representing 1600 walking clubs, publishes more than 150 guidebooks (topoguides des sentiers de grande randonnée).
It has standardized guidebooks and trailblazing (white-redmarked trail): (only in french).

some sites:
a) or in french:
(import GPX), TCX (Garmin);  save/export: KML, GPX, CSV (spreadsheet) or iframe; save on the server with Id number; comments). 122 000 foot/bike-paths @ august, 2011. See this example:
quite good search function (from the map of France) but some trails are not found on the map (example this "111653").

b) The Long Distance Footpaths Network.
this site: just list of Guesthouses, Shelters, and the Footpath.
For each map it offers many links:
i)googlemaps (you can save comment, download the kml file, "plusOne" button)
ii)googleEarth: only download kml file
iii)wikiloc; example:
Wikiloc offers the choice of map servers directly in the google maps
world wikiloc= 420000 trails (data @ august 2011).
iv) everytrail; example:
it offers dynamic elevation (maps and elevation chart use flash player.),  hiking trip planning tool.
v) randogps:; example:
position of IGN maps on google Maps:

Some "offices de tourisme" have shared trails on  everytrail: but there is no standardization...

some links:

some sites (site de "partage d'itinéraire"):
1) (only in french). The maps are embed with
 you can upload your files (.GPX or .TRK from  CompeGPS) and save trails (.GPX or .KML).
see the full map of France:
It's a quite good site (only in french): many choices (google maps, earth or geoportail).
8200 trails (DATA@sept 2011).
Good "one-click service" to add a trail if you have found GPX file link.
2) (only in french and only VTT): 366 VTT routes (DATA@sept 2011)
3), (82: France, you can also choose the region): 3700 bicycle routes in France (DATA@sept 2011). You dowload GPX or KML or you can embed on you blog.
4)  4772 VTT routes (DATA@sept 2011)
5) many tools but in fact only for routes.

Germany : the Verband Deutscher Gebirgs- und Wandervereine – Deutscher Wanderverband - is the organization of almost 56 large associations.
only in german: on the website 90 among the most outstanding paths  in Germany are described in detail (with google maps API). VERY GOOD SITE (but no collaborative functions). You can find all necessary information at a glance: a path description, its length and height profile, maps of single routes as well as the addresses of the competent tourist organizations and ramblers’ associations...

Great Britain:
England and Wales have 225 000 Km (140,000 miles) of off-road routes classed as Public Rights of Way. These are short local off-road routes that everyone has a right to use even where they cross private land, and they are protected by local authorities (although some of them may be illegally blocked). They should be signed at junctions with public roads. Many are also signed or "waymarked" with coloured arrows along the route itself. Footpaths are open only to walkers, and may be waymarked with yellow arrows. In addition to rights of way, where you only have a right to walk along the path itself, there are over 1.4 million ha of "access land" where you have a right to walk freely. This land is mainly open country: mountain (over 600m), moor, heath, down and common land. The exact areas covered are shown on official maps.
Scotland has a general right of access to most land, even farmland, so long as you behave responsibly.
Recognised signed recreational paths and trails (including long distance paths), have developed rather differently in Britain than in many other European countries, partly because walking organizations have historically campaigned for more general local access rights. The Long Distance Walkers Association keeps records of all trails over 30 Km long, and documents these in 2 publications, The Long Distance Walker’s Handbook and The Long Distance Path Chart.
National Trails (the best maintained trails in England and Wales) have special legal status and receive funding from central government agencies.  They are signed with an acorn logo.  There are 15 such trails with a total length of 4000 Km. Scotland’s Great Trails are a suite of 20 nationally promoted longer distance routes in Scotland. Each of these trails is individually waymarked, and collectively branded with the thistle logo.  They extend to over 2000 Km.

Searchable LDP's Database (LDP=Long-Distance Paths):
This website includes a searchable database of over 1 200 UK paths and trails (covering more than 70 000 miles). Path information includes maps, publications, and accommodation near the path:
Some of the LDP pages use interactive maps built around the OpenSpace service provided by the Ordnance Survey.

Group Walks Finder (with many search options):

Belgium: there is a network of long distance footpaths, covering the whole country 5000 km white-redmarked trails exist. Parts of these are extensions of the border- crossing GR 5 and GR 12 (see France). Guidebooks (topogidsen in Flemish and topoguides in French) can be ordered from Grote Routepaden ( and Sentiers de Grande Randonnée (S.G.R.; which are responsible for the network of footpaths in Flanders and Wallonia respectively.

Spain: footpaths (senderos) exist in mountaineous areas (the Pyrenees, Catalonia, the Basque country, the Sierra Nevada, the Picos de Europa). Long distance footpaths are called Senderos de Gran Recorriido (GR).


Poland: there are about 65000 Km of marked footpaths. About 11500 Km are in the mountains and under the responsibility of the Polish Tourist Association (PTTK).

Netherlands: a network of more than 35 long distance footpaths (from 60 to 400 Km). The total network is more than 6000 km. Some of the paths are long distance footpaths (lange- afstand wandelpaden) and others are regional (streekpaden). In cooperation with the organisation which coordinates these footpaths (wandelplatform), Dutch Rail has developed a number of daytrips (and some trips for 2 days) going from station to station.
In guides with maps (1:25000), all practical information is given. They are easy to use even if you do not know Dutch: there is a special section with essential topics explained in English.
All long distance footpaths (and all regional paths streekpaden) in one google maps (flash player) with share comments:
public transport:

Switzerland: the country is very well developed for walking with about 60000 km well marked and maintained footpaths.
list of of publicly available WebGIS-applications:

Austria: walking is well developed in Austria with about 44000 km of marked trails. Many, but not all, of them are partly in high mountains. (only in german).

----wikipedia, some wikipedia articles are small "e-guidebooks" but many of them are a stub. (The Grande Randonnée (French), Grote Routepaden or Lange-afstand-wandelpaden (Dutch), Grande Rota (Portuguese) or Gran Recorrido (Spanish))

In 1968, the United States created its National Trails System (, which includes National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails.
Find a trail (take around one minute for the full map; flash player):
If you click on a trail, just an URL!

Search over 1100 National Recreation Trails in the online database and more:

In the United States agencies administering trails include the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, State Park systems, County Parks, cities, private organizations such as land trusts, businesses and individual property owners.
New trail construction by an agency must often be assessed for its environmental impact and conformance with State or Federal laws. For example, in California new trails must undergo reviews specified by the California Environmental Quality Act.

see also the transportation maps: Biological Data, geological data...
see an example, Oregon geospatial data:
with GEO Data RSS feed to receive updates when data is added or changed in the Spatial Data Library.

Information about the draft Federal Trail Data Standard:
The functional scope of the draft Federal Trail Data Standard (FTDS) includes the definition of a core set of trail data attributes, corresponding values, and definitions. This draft standard reflects tabular and spatial trail data applicable. The draft Federal Trail Data Standard does not cover all possible trail data or agency-specific data needs, but concentrates on a core set of inter-jurisdictional management and administrative trail data needs. The FTDS are not a database (this effort does not create any new databases.  For the first time, four federal land management agencies (BLM, FWS, NPS and USFS) have collaborated to standardize their definitions of commonly used trail terminology). Data collection and implementation schedules will be determined by each agency.  The FTDS simply provide common definitions and terminology for a core set of trail information. The FTDS do not include standardized data definitions for facilities or “things along the trail”. This level of detail is beyond the scope of the FTDS and more appropriate for individual agencies or entities to define, depending on their specific data needs. 
The federal trail data standard (sept 2010; trails of all kinds):
Projection: NAD83 is the national standard.

Definition of Trail:  A linear route managed for human-powered, stock, or off-highway vehicle forms of transportation or for historic or heritage values.

Trail Code Trail Category:
  1. Reg. Trail : Regular Trail: any agency-managed trail not designated NST or NHT
  2. NST: National Scenic Trail (Congressionally Designated)
  3. NHT1 (Desig): Route(s) congressionally designated as the National Historic Trail
  4. NHT2 (HR): NHT associated heritage resources (routes and/or sites)
  5. NHT3 (Rec): NHT associated recreation or interpretive route and/or site
The metadata must be in a FGDC-compliant format (for both spatial and non-spatial data) as 
documented at

The creation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) was authorized by President Clinton under Executive Order 12906 in 1994, and has provided the policy umbrella for geographic information in the US :
In the mid 1990s the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee published its Content Standards for
Digital Geospatial Metadata, a format for the description of geographic data sets. The project was very timely, given the rapid increase in the availability of geographic information via the Internet that occurred at that time. Metadata were seen as the key to effective processes of search, evaluation, and use of geographic information. Nevertheless, and despite numerous efforts and inducements, it remains very difficult to persuade those responsible for creating geographic data sets to provide adequate documentation. (GeoJournal (2007) 69:211–221)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM; is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America's public lands, totaling approximately 1,023,855 km2 (one-eighth of the landmass of the country). The BLM also manages 2,832,800 km2 of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state and private lands. Its budget is US$960,000,000 for 2010 ($9.38 per hectare). The BLM also manages 7200 km of National Scenic, Historic, and Recreational Trails, as well as thousands of km of multiple use trails used by hikers, equestrians, motorcyclists and mountain bikers.
Database of 718 recreation areas:
there is no standardization of HTML pages for each trails!
All maps are available online in printable pdf format.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS

-National Wildlife Refuge System (548 National Wildlife Refuges and 66 National Fish Hatcheries)
-Division of Migratory Bird Management
-Federal Duck Stamp
-National Fish Hatchery System
-Endangered Species program
-United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement

Budget: $2.32 billion (

National Park Service (NPS,
The NPS is the US federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties.
The NP system encompasses approximately 338 000 km².
NP trails around 20 000km.
Budget: $3 billion.
Find a park:

United States Forest Service (USFS,
The United States Forest Service is an agency that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 780000 km², 230693 km of trails.
Budget: $5.8 billion (42% is spent fighting fires).
each park=POI with a balloon (with one link).

On April 16, 2010, Pd Obama introduced America’s Great Outdoors, an initiative aimed at reigniting our historic commitment to conserving and enjoying the magnificent natural heritage that has shaped our nation and its citizens.

In 1999, the inaugural International Symposium on Digital Earth in Beijing provided a venue for the extensive international support for implementing the Gore Digital Earth vision (1998).
An explosion of Chinese "Digital Earth" projects followed: hundreds of digital earth cities created by national, provincial, and municipal governments as well as universities.
In China, "Digital Earth" and GIS became a metaphor for modernization and automation with computers, leading to its incorporation into a five-year modernization plan.
Originating from China’s satellite remote sensing community, Digital Earth prowess spread to a range of applications(flood predictions, dust cloud modeling, and city planning). China has been omnipresent at all international Digital Earth conferences since and has recently founded the International Society for Digital Earth. In 2009, the International Symposium on Digital Earth returned to Beijing for its 6th meeting.
one example:
Zhan-chun Xiao, Yan-fang Liu, Jing Liu, Ya Tang and Chen Zeng, "Research on visualization of main tourist areas in Hubei province based on Google Earth", Proc. SPIE 7492, 74920S (2009)
Proceedings / Volume 7492 / Multi-sensor, Multi-resolution, and Multi-mode Data Fusion
The travel craze in China has become one of the largest sources of expenditure increases. However, the limited patterns of information demonstration hindered the availability of necessary information to the public as well as the decision makers. Google Earth provides a useful platform for integrating environmental information with geospatial data from different sources. Using KML files, various environmental data may be viewed in Google Earth. In this paper, Google Earth is used as basic GIS platform. Placemarks of main tourist areas of Hubei Province are made and loaded by KML. The most up-to-date information is released using text, picture and video in HTML files. This approach transformed the traditional two-dimension travel information system into multi-dimensional information platform, facilitating data updating and information sharing over the Internet. It would also help decision making of the government and promote information availability to the public.
one example:
Yea-Chung Ding, "Using Digital Earth to create online scientific reality tourist guides to tourist attractions in Taiwan", Proc. SPIE 7840, 78400Q (2009).
Proceedings / Volume 7840 / Web-based Services, System Design, and Algorithms for Digital Earth
In recent years national parks worldwide have introduced online virtual tourism, through which potential visitors can search for tourist information. Most virtual tourism websites are a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of panoramic images, a sequence of hyperlinked still or video images, and/or virtual models of the actual location. As opposed to actual tourism, a virtual tour is typically accessed on a personal computer or an interactive kiosk. Using modern Digital Earth techniques such as high resolution satellite images, precise GPS coordinates and powerful 3D WebGIS, however, it's possible to create more realistic scenic models to present natural terrain and man-made constructions in greater detail. This article explains how to create an online scientific reality tourist guide for the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park at Jinguashi in northern Taiwan, China. This project uses high-resolution Formosat 2 satellite images and digital aerial images in conjunction with DTM to create a highly realistic simulation of terrain, with the addition of 3DMAX to add man-made constructions and vegetation. Using this 3D Geodatabase model in conjunction with INET 3D WebGIS software, we have found Digital Earth concept can greatly improve and expand the presentation of traditional online virtual tours on the websites.

-------they are a lot of personal pages relating a trek
for example, see :
the index of personal pages relating a trek along GR20 (Corsica):
and this on-line travel guide to Corsica:
--many web services with
dynamic views (charts) of records distance, timing, elevation, pace, heart rate, power data (from ANT+™-enabled third-party power meters) and more. 
With, you can find tracks/routes (results: only 10 by 10; bing maps, no right click, if you click on a track, you can see directly on the map). You can save the link (example). 
If you select "view details": you get access to many data. You have many save functions: embed (only iframe), kml; you can send data to your device. With "splits" view,  you can export to csv. Select "player" view, and get a dynamic tour (simulate your activity along your route with workout data.).
Manual activity
The management (dashboard) is quite good. You have to create an account (no openID).

3 APIs: (not available DATA@august 2011)
Enable users to interact programmatically from your application or web site to Garmin Connect. The API returns Garmin Connect data in a form that can be easily integrated into an application or a web site.

Gain access to a set of utilities and controls, written in Flash and JavaScript, for adding Garmin Connect components to web applications.
Communicate with Garmin GPS products directly from a web application. Allow visitors, who have the free cross-platform/browser Garmin Communicator plugin installed on their computer to transfer waypoint, route, track log, fitness and map data between their Garmin device and your website.

just one example:

-----they are a lot of guide pdf file 
example Texas:
--there are many sites of hiking society:

---examples of local "aggregator" of single-day bushwalks: provides descriptions, maps, waypoints and routes for several single-day bushwalks (for more than 55 one-day walks) within a distance of less than 100km from the city of Perth in Western Australia. Route maps, waypoints, links to satellite imagery, video, and over 700 photos are included within 120-plus web pages.
WalkGPS includes Google road maps, Google Earth displays and GPS waypoints and 'track' files (including PCX5, GPX, KMZ and MAP files for all walks), so that you can easily find your way to walk start points and discover the walk routes.
all ways to access to the 55 one-day walks:
A convenient compilation of downloadable map, waypoint and 'track' files for all walks on WalkGPS:,%20Waypoints%20and%20Track%20Files.htm

---examples of local "aggregator" of local waypoints (Southern Africa):

---some well-known guides, example: the green guide and viaMichelin
try this tourism magazine (the green guide):
The website (alexa rank: 9600 (DATA@august 2011)) clearly shows the Michelin experience in the publication of maps and guides.
ViaMichelin provides many one-click services. It offers maps, route plans, hotel and restaurant booking services and traffic and tourist information..., across a range of media including the Internet, mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants, GPS navigation systems... Its on-line hotel/motel reservations service features (more than 60000 hotels across Europe).
The exclusive database of Michelin Guide content and listings includes 18 000 tourist site recommendations and ratings for 62 000 hotels and restaurants, as well as additional travel services including traffic and weather updates, on-line car-hire booking. This database is updated regularly.
many GPS export: 1)totom: save to .ov2, 2)viaMichelin GPS (by direct connection), 3)garmin, .gpx, 4)navigon .freshcontact, 5)mio .csv, 6)navman .csv, 7)BMW connected drive login, 8)pioneer .kml.
You easily can calculate your route (with many Driving directions) and save to GPS.
try the audioGuide (in french):
try the gastronomy magazine with many Cooking type/price options:
try the maps with many categorized POI (maybe the best!):

---------my best choice:

KML and Fusion Table
Fusion Tables supports visualizing your data on maps (it is a better alternative to Spreadsheet Mapper:

see the example : Biking and Hiking trails from alexa rank: 1450000 (DATA@august 2011).
It's a cloud-based collaborative database application. To illustrate these fusionTable features, data from MTBGuru (public trips) have been used to demo these visualizations. Some maps show tracks from public trips in the map area, which are all overlayed as polylines. Moreover the polylines are clickable and will show you an infoWindow with links to the original trip page. The data, which lives in a Fusion Table, can be filtered and manipulated as one can expect in a database environment, and the visualization will be adjusted accordingly. See the data:
They have created a Google Code project with sample code illustrating how we used the API to work with Fusion Tables and create the table with trips:, see updated project: (this gem lets you easily interact with Google Fusion Tables API from your Ruby application via a plain SQL interface, or an object orientated interface). See also this example (position of bikes, London:

Fusion Tables supports a number of data formats:
Comma-separated files (.csv) - Up to 100 MB
Microsoft Excel files (.xls, .xlsx) - Up to 1 MB
OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods) - Up to 1 MB
Keyhole Markup Language (.kml) - Up to 100 MB
Data already in a Google Spreadsheet
If you have datasets in Excel or Open Office Spreadsheets that are larger than 1MB, save them as CSV files to take advantage of the larger 100MB limit!

-------see a good example (trail and many menus on the map):,-121.076332&t=t2&z=13&label=off&coord=latlng

Gmap4 map displaying information from a delimited text file.This new file format is much easier to understand than GPX or KML files.

--------at the end of this post, the last but not the least:
the dotted lines (one dotted lines or parallel dotted lines, in black; see the images below) of the IGN map or "carte France raster" correspond to paths, footpaths, mule track, hiking trail, nature trail, beaten track....Many of them have no trailblazing. Some of these "dot lines" correspond to old paths and you must need a sickle ;)
The parallel //dotted lines corresponds to "roads" for farm tractor or 4X4 (without asphalt): non-motorized trails. There is no difference (same dotted lines) for the two types of trails - paved (bicycle) and unpaved hiking trails.

select IGN map with scale 1:64000, you can see many tourism POI
Select some maps with national/regional  parks and biodiversity data:
Select the "land parcels" layer, you will see "barbed wires";)
Select "transport networks" and "roads", you get a better view of roads.
Select "land cover" and "Carte forestière v1 (1987-2004)" or "Carte forestière v2", (only in french).

"IGN map":

"carte France raster":
--google earth:
you can see the trails (in white with different width) : just click on "roads" (layers menu). You have to select a scale lower than eye alt 2km. There are no differences between trails and roads with asphalt!
National roads or some other roads (many mistakes) appear with a yellow color.

no dotted lines for manually add a path (choice are limited : color, width, opacity); version (build date: 5/17/2011)

---dotted lines 
you can use dotted lines with
1)you need a live account
2)create your places
3) see the editor:

4)you can export



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