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OpenStreetMap - crowd-sourced mapping.

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  • OpenStreetMap - crowd-sourced mapping. allows the general public to modify its maps. You can login and add/subtract features like roads, trails, buildings, property lines, etc. Google Maps has a similar capability but it's a blank slate when it comes to High Peaks trails. On the other hand, owing to the input of a few individuals, OpenStreetMap has an extensive set of trails. In fact, I've noticed other online maps (like Caltopo) have inherited trails from OpenStreetMap.

    I'm still a newbie so I've only made a few baby steps. I labelled the Herbert Brook lean-to, the two Beaver Point lean-to's, the NYS DEC Lake Colden Interior Outpost, the Blueberry Horse Trail, and indicated the location of the designated campsite at the intersection of the Calkins Creek Truck Trail and Blueberry Horse Trail. I also corrected the routing of the Blueberry Horse Trail from the Seward trail-head to Calkins Truck Trail (although that change doesn't appear on the map yet).

    If you have the time and inclination, I suggest you open an account and add information to the map for the benefit of others.
    Looking for Views!

  • #2
    Some things that new mappers should no:
    1) don't copy from other maps, this includes trail conference maps, nat geo, and the high peaks foundation map. If you get permission to copy this data its a thing you will want to talk about on a mailing list before doing
    2) don't import data sets (e.g. dec, opr, etc) without getting community buy in first. Even when almost everything goes right it can still cause problems.
    3) data quality is much more variable than other data sources, there are spots where open street map is the best that's out there and spots (like the trail up the nose of anthony's nose) where its just a guess. I just took a look at Dix and it looks like the trail is based on 0-1 tracks, Marcy is based on 2 (both from the north), which is to say there are most likely some significant errors.
    4) One helpful thing that you can do, if you don't want to map, is to record gps tracks and upload them. Having a bunch of tracks to work with makes it much easier to map features, like trails, that aren't visible from imagery.
    5) Arm chair mapping is somewhat controversial. The idea is that should go out and map stuff, not just guess at features you can see in imagery... probably not a problem in this community.


    • #3
      Thanks! Good information.

      I read the Beginner's Guide and got the gist that information added to the map shouldn't come directly from copyrighted sources. For example, the Interior Outpost's name came from the sign hanging on the front porch, Herbert Brook lean-to is what everyone around here calls it (including its maintainer, Telemarkmike), and the correct routing of the Blueberry Horse Trail came from a recent GPS tracklog of mine. I realize new "ways" should be the average of many tracklogs but I have high confidence in the track I recorded ... and it's far more accurate than what's currently depicted on the map (which is based on outdated USGS topo data).

      The interesting thing is watching how long it takes for new "ways" to percolate through the process. At the moment, my rerouted Blueberry Horse Trail is only visible under extreme magnification (zoom level 19) otherwise, it is not shown. In addition, I deleted the old horse trail yet it continues to be shown at low zoom (zoom level 16) but disappears when you zoom in!?!
      Looking for Views!


      • #4
        I'm beginning to understand how changes are incorporated into the map. As of today, my reroute of the Blueberry Horse Trail is now visible at magnification level 14 and the old route is gone. However, if you zoom out one more level, to 13, then my new route disappears and the old one reappears. It suggests significant changes, like adding/removing trails, slowly work their way through OpenStreetMap's database and don't instantly appear on all "tiles". On the other hand, new or modified names seem to appear more quickly.

        A benefit of creating an OpenStreetMap account is it allows you to (optionally) see Map Notes. You can select an item on the map and see the author's annotations explaining what was done, the assumptions made, the source of the data, etc. Of course, the author is not obliged to supply all of this information but OpenStreetMap does recommend providing it in order to help others understand the alterations. For example, the Blueberry Horse Trail lying west of the Calkins Truck trail is closed (posted at the intersection). Rather than erase the trail from the map, a note has been added explaining the trail's status. The old section west of the truck trail was deleted and the note explains the depicted route was incorrect.

        I don't have very many tracklogs for marked trails so there's not much I can add to OpenStreetMap. I'm leery of using other people's tracklogs (I can't vouch for their accuracy). However, I plan to use my GPS next time I'm hiking a trail that is missing in OpenStreetMap (like the unmarked one from Cold Brook Pass to Marshall). I also plan to get the coordinates of designated campsites and enter them into OpenStreetMap as well. There are quite a few shown (in the High Peaks) but several are missing like the three along Gill Brook and the ones near Uphill and Feldspar lean-to's.

        I think it would only take a handful of hikers, submitting their information over the course of a summer, to make OpenStreetMap an accurate source of hiking information.
        Looking for Views!


        • DanW
          DanW commented
          Editing a comment
          I don't want to discourage you, but map notes are usually the wrong tool. They are aimed at editors more so than users and I normally would use them either when I don't know how to deal with a situation or when I need to go back and fix something later. In the case of an existing, but closed, trail you will want to have a look at the access tag ( and set it to something appropriate. For the deleted way, you should be putting a comment in the change set, but a note isn't needed. I'm sure you know that its better to move improperly placed items instead of deleting and recreating them, as the former preserves their history.

        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          I felt Map Notes might be handy for users because they reveal issues encountered by the editors. Kind of a sticky note explaining the nitty-gritty for a given map feature. However, I agree, they appear to be most useful for editors.

          Someone had suggested (in a comment) to set Access=No for the "Trail Closed" section of the Blueberry Horse Trail. However, the trail is still visible, isn't blocked or brushed in, and remains accessible to foot traffic. Given these factors, I didn't feel it was fair to say Access=No. I simply added "TRAIL CLOSED" to the Description (with a short explanation).

          I've been diligent; I've documented all my changes using Comments. I've read comments left by previous authors before altering any data.

          I'm not convinced preserving the history of a major error is worthwhile. The depicted Horse Trail west of the road was nothing like what's currently in the woods. It was identical to what's shown on a USGS topo map. USGS maps contain many hiking trails that either no longer exist or are not in the depicted location. The author of the section of trail I deleted clearly never hiked and recorded it but simply copied it from somewhere (it says as much in a Comment).

          The East River Trail (I renamed it from "Hanging Spear Falls Trail") is an admitted approximation by its author. I won't delete that one because it does get many things right. I plan to move it once I get a tracklog of its full length (I only have about 75% of it). Currently, it shows a few twists and turns that don't exist, fails to follow turns that do exist, and shows a crossing of Lake Jimmy that was rerouted a few years ago.

          Another example of a trail needing correction is the bifurcated Van Hoevenberg trail between Phelps Brook and Indian Falls.

          There's only one marked hiking trail, called the Van Hoevenberg trail, between those end-points. The other one is probably the *ski trail*. Or one of them is a trail abandoned many years ago; I can't tell for sure until I overlay a recent tracklog.
          Last edited by Trail Boss; 05-20-2016, 10:33 AM.

        • DanW
          DanW commented
          Editing a comment
          Looking at the gps data, its pretty clear that the western branch is the correct one as of 2012( note that you can see when and who uploaded the tracks in JOSM).

          In potlatch2 you can see the tracks, but no metadata, by doing gps->gps data.

          I don't have the local knowledge to know what that eastern branch is, but if you do I would go ahead and update based on those tracks.

      • #5
        For example, the Blueberry Horse Trail lying west of the Calkins Truck trail is closed (posted at the intersection).
        Didn't you mean to say EAST of the intersection?


        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          Doh! Yes sir, I did mean east! Thanks for catching the mistake! I double-checked and, fortunately, I got the direction right in the comment I added to OpenStreetMap.

      • #6
        I added the Wallface Ponds trail today. Only visible at zoom level 18 but it'll rise to the surface in a few days.

        I wanted to add the Mount Adams and Allen trails but the East River Trail depicted isn't accurate (in fairness the author indicated it was an approximation). The junction(s) would be in the wrong place so I first need a tracklog of the entire East River Trail. I have several to Allen (and one of my own to the east side of Calamity) but none that go as far as Flowed Lands. Until I get my hands on a tracklog that runs all the way north, I'm leaving out the Adams and Allen trails.
        Looking for Views!


        • #7
          Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post

          I'm still a newbie so I've only made a few baby steps. I labelled the Herbert Brook lean-to, the two Beaver Point lean-to's, the NYS DEC Lake Colden Interior Outpost......
          That would be Beaver Point and Cedar Point lean-tos. The nomenclature Beaver Point #1 and Beaver Point #2 is incorrect.
          Adopt a natural resource. Give back.


          • #8
            Ouch! Help me out here!

            I had used the DEC's data which identifies them as Beaver Point #1 and #2. DSettahr's lean-to spreadsheet lists them the same way (potentially also based on DEC's nomenclature)

            I just looked at the Beaver Point area on Google Maps, thumbed through the associated Panoramio photos and found one pic of a lean-to with a sign saying "Cedar Point". Unfortunately, I can't tell which of the two lean-to's it represents. I think it corresponds to the one I labeled #2 which is the easternmost of the two. Is that correct?

            It would appear I shouldn't rely on the DEC's lean-to names and only use whatever appears on the lean-to's sign. That's probably best since that's what hikers are more likely to see. Heading for "Beaver Point #2" lean-to and discovering it is actually "Cedar Point" would certainly be confusing.

            This is another reason I am documenting my changes here because they are more likely to be seen by people very familiar with the subject matter and likely to correct my errors.

            BTW, I nudged a section of the Marcy trail, from Four Corners to the Van Ho-Phelps junction, to better reflect a tracklog and satellite imagery. The depicted route lacked detail. I also moved Marcy's summit marker by a few feet (slightly too far northwest based on satellite imagery) and moved the Schofield Cobble marker which was well south of the recognizable bump. I don't imagine these changes will be visible (above zoom 19) for a few days. The Wallface Ponds trail I added yesterday is now starting to become visible at zoom 16.
            Last edited by Trail Boss; 05-20-2016, 01:06 PM.
            Looking for Views!


            • #9
              I had always called the westerly lean-to "Beaver Point" and the easterly one "Cedar Point". The easterly one is now called the "West" lean-to in honor of the long-serving ranger at Lake Colden, Clint West. Clint started working for the Tahawus Club. In that capacity he met and rowed across the lake the group that included Grace Leach before she climbed her first High Peak, Marcy.


              • Commissionpoint
                Commissionpoint commented
                Editing a comment
                Who exactly is calling it that Tony? Sign on the structure says Cedar Point. DEC map calls it Beaver Point #2. Now you are saying it's called West? Is this something new?

            • #10
              Yeh. Something is a bit wonky with the DEC naming convention in that particular area. When I adopted McMartin I was given coordinates and a map and a log book for something called Walker Brook. Obviously, being me, I protested. I might have even remonstrated slightly. Nobody at ADK knew why there was this discrepancy either, requiring a call to DEC to get the straight dope on the situation. Turns out, just a clerical oversight.

              Which brings me to my point. Some of the published data is hinkey. I think most of us have seen examples of this, and collectively probably posses far a superior quality of data than NYS does as a group. The advantage to having this otherwise likely useless information is found in an application like your OpenStreetMap here. It's possible to create a much more robust set of data points through crowd sourcing than what is possible with the resources of State Agencies in much less time, and costing far less money.

              As to your question about the Beaver Point L/T's, there are some more data points which need correction. You can see in satellite imagery the roof of Cedar Point. It's that eastern one you mention. You can see the green asphalt roof in satellite imaging software. That's where the mark for that structure should go. About 150 feet west of that and on the other side of the point is The Beaver Shack. Built in 1983 by high school students and Forest Rangers. It's probably non-conforming at this point in time because of the 150' rule, and it only has basic historical value, but I am not aware of any plans to move it. I also maintain this one, and one more in the area.
              Adopt a natural resource. Give back.


              • #11

                Regarding the parallel branches of the Van Ho, I agree the western one is the correct trail (except it is a bit idealized because the hook it makes is sharper in reality).

                I'm uncertain about the eastern branch. It may very well be the ski trail or just something someone copied from the USGS map.

                I recall seeing two parallel hiking trails on an ADK map from the 70's (I no longer have it). Here's a 1953 USGS map and it also shows two parallel trails but they are slightly different in appearance.

                Here's a kick in the pants, the DEC's own KML file for hiking trails, indicates the eastern branch is the official trail! It has no data for the western branch.

                I'll tweak the western branch so it'll conform to (an average of several) GPS tracklogs. I'll remove "Van Hoevenberg Trail" from the eastern branch and rename it "Ski Trail".

                The two lean-to's are now called "Beaver Point" and "Cedar Point". Their Description field reveals their DEC alternate names, "Beaver Point #1" and "Beaver Point #2", respectively.
                Looking for Views!


                • #12
                  Based on data I recorded during a recent trip to Cliff and Redfield (from Upper Works) I added the following information to OpenStreetMap:
                  • Campsite located about 0.2 miles south of the high-water bridge over Calamity Brook.
                  • Two campsites located about 100 feet west of Calamity Lean-to. One of them even has a makeshift metal bench and a water-view.
                  • Herbert Brook Lean-to's toilet.
                  • Campsite and toilet located about 150 yards northeast of Herbert Brook Lean-to.
                  • Five campsites and two toilets located south(west) of Colden Dam.
                  • Two campsites and toilets located near Uphill Lean-to.
                  • Adjusted location of trail running along the east side of the Opalescent river (below Colden Dam).
                  • Adjusted location of trails running along the south side of the Opalescent river and marked the two viewpoints for the Opalescent gorge.
                  • Adjusted location of trails to Cliff and Redfield. Indicated trails are "unmarked" rather than "unmaintained".

                  It's not an exhaustive list of all campsites, toilets, and spur-trails but it's better than nothing. If you see a campsite or toilet without an associated spur-trail, that's not my handiwork.

                  Here's a sample of the campsites at the northern end of Flowed Lands.

                  To Do List
                  (Text in light-gray indicates the task has been completed.)

                  The infrastructure shown around Lake Colden is skimpy. It fails to show the complete trail running along the lake's eastern shore. It doesn't show the campsite on the eastern shore. The depicted trails seem to be very simplified. The spur-trail to the Interior Outpost is missing. Bridges aren't shown

                  Cold Brook Pass is called "MacIntyre Passs" [sic].

                  Trail from Lake Colden to Algonquin depicts a short bifurcation that is unknown to me.

                  Campsite at the south end of Avalanche Lake is missing.

                  The infrastructure shown around Avalanche Camp is skimpy. The lean-to and campsites are missing. Two hiking trails are shown where one must be the ski trail.

                  L. Morgan Porter trail is called "Mount Colden Trail". Lake Arnold campsite is shown on the wrong side of the trail.

                  Unmarked trail to Marshall from Cold Brook Pass is missing.
                  Last edited by Trail Boss; 06-08-2016, 09:57 AM.
                  Looking for Views!


                  • #13
                    So far I've been using the browser-based "ID" editor to make changes. However, I encountered the need to split a trail, and do other actions that aren't in ID, so I switched to using JOSM.
                    • Completed the trail along Lake Colden's eastern shore.
                    • Added Ski Trail at northern end of Lake Colden.
                    • Used 5 GPS tracks to draw a corrected Mount Colden Trail (Lake Colden to Colden's summit).
                    • Used 3 GPS tracks to draw a proper L. Morgan Porter Trail (Lake Arnold to Colden's summit).
                    • Added short spur-trail to Colden's marked summit.
                    • Identified winding trail at northern end of Avy Pass as a Ski Trail.
                    • Renamed 'MacIntyre Passs' to 'Cold Brook Pass'.
                    • Added/corrected tags for several trails.

                    Looking for Views!


                    • #14
                      I tried using this, with some success. First, after creating an account, I edited some road names in the Elizabethtown area to match those shown on the highway/street signs. These showed up on the map. I then uploaded a GPX track for a climb up Hurricane (the trails up Hurricane were not shown on the default or any other map that I could find). After awhile, I received an email that my track had been uploaded, but it has not yet shown up on the map.

                      ADK 46r #8003; 6W
                      2nd round: 16
                      SL6r #596
                      Catskill 3500 21/39; 11W


                      • #15
                        Good stuff!

                        Maybe you already know this but if you expected to import a GPS tracklog and have OpenStreetMap automatically convert it into a "way" ... that's not how it works.

                        Here's what I did:

                        I uploaded a GPS file and set it to Private. It informed me when the file uploaded. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to make my uploaded, private tracklog appear in the ID editor. So I tried something different. While you are in Edit mode (typically the satellite map is shown), simply drag and drop your GPX file directly onto the map. It will instantly appear in the editor. Now you can create a brand new "way" by tracing over the GPS track.

                        I believe the purpose of uploading a GPX file, and setting it to Public, is so others can refer to the source of your information or use it for their own purposes.

                        FWIW, the JOSM editor is more flexible because each tracklog appears on a separate layer whose color and visibility can be modified. This is helpful when you import five tracklogs of the very same trail and draw a way that is the average of all five. I found the ID editor to be adequate until I needed to split an existing way (I can't find this function in ID). JOSM can do that and much more but it has a steeper learning curve.

                        BTW, they warn users to avoid "arm-chair" routing by simply tracing stuff from satellite images. Apparently satellite images, just like topo maps, may have an offset. If you trace a way using satellite imagery you may end up with something that doesn't match with any GPS tracklog. The problem is that tracklogs aren't super-accurate in themselves so effectively you can't trust anything!

                        JOSM lets you adjust maps and imagery for offset but frankly I don't know what one's reference would be! For the Mount Colden trail, I averaged several tracklogs to create the way and they did seem to agree with the satellite imagery on Colden's summit. However, there was enough deviation in other spots to make it clear that if you use only one GPS track to make a way, it'll only be an approximation of the actual route.
                        Looking for Views!