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Trail maps posted on the trail design considerations

April 19 2010 | 0 comments
Categories: Cartographic Design

I have been tasked to create a number of "You are Here" type maps to be posted at trail intersections in a Park system. Some of them will have an aerial image as a background, others will not. I also have to label the distance of each trail segment. What general design considerations do I take into account for an outdoor map on a post versus a paper map in your hand?

Mapping Center Answer:

Consider the construction of the "You are Here" map and how the map will be printed or incorporated on those materials.  For instance, will a laminated topographic map sheet with a prominent red dot pinned to a bulletin board work?  Or will a very simple (heavily abstracted) map of only the trail network, and major features like streams near the trails, mountains that are easily visible from the trails, structures near the trails, etc. that is encased on marker posts be the direction to take. 

I suppose I could detail all the possible design considerations, but since this is hardly a new kind of project, it would perhaps be most helpful for you to visit a few trails that have markers with maps and see how it was done.  Look for a good design and steal it--that's what I would do.  Actually, I would look for the best design in my budget--recalling some of the amazing illustrated 4'x8' trail systems maps I've seen in a number of national parks in the U.S. and abroad.

As you look at those maps, notice your viewing distance--the richness or sparseness of content, etc.  The goal is to find an experience that works for what you need and to make it yours.  The state parks in your area and maybe som city parks should have some useful/instructive examples.


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