New map details hiking trails around Juneau

Posted: Friday, February 11, 2000

The U.S. Forest Service has just published the first map of all the foot trails in Juneau.

Two years of effort involved consultations with city, state and federal trail managers and trail advocates, plus a fresh look at trails' positions through the global network of satellites.

``The demand for this has been so strong,'' said Nita Nettleton, director of the Forest Service's information center at Centennial Hall.

The agency's tourist-oriented maps and those in guidebooks were small, she said. ``We just did not have a map to show a person where all the trails are.''

One side shows the area from Point Bridget to the north to Oliver Inlet to the south, with trails and other features superimposed on a contour map. It includes public use cabins, picnic areas, city parks, state recreation areas, beach access and bike paths.

The map's other side shows several areas in a larger scale. The map is colored to show different land ownership, so hikers know when they're on public land. The map's edges provide latitude and longitude. The map also includes a key to trails.

The new map is valuable for showing all of the city's undeveloped park land, said Mary Lou King, author of a newly revised guidebook to Juneau's short walks.

``And people hadn't known where you can go to the beach legitimately. They put it all on one map so people can say, `Wow, we really have something here,''' King said.

``So many places in the world, you just can't go. Knowing you have public lands is a nice thing to have in your hand,'' she said.

Trail managers and advocates helped the Forest Service figure out what features to include, trail names and where property lines are, Nettleton said.

It wasn't always easy to know a trail's path, and the map includes some trails that aren't well-maintained.

``Nature tries very hard to heal these trails,'' Nettleton said. ``Sometimes the annual growth can make a trail all but invisible.''

The Forest Service's geometronics shop, as the map-making section is called, already had a lot of the map's information in its computers, but some of it was old, said Connie Wilkins, the supervisory cartographer.

The data on trails was very sketchy, or it included roads that never existed or have been moved, said Lyle Krueger, a cartographic technician who did much of the map's computer work.

Volunteers walked the most heavily used trails with global positioning receivers, picking up information every few feet from a network of satellites.

But the receivers need a direct line to the satellites, and sometimes they were blocked by cliffs or other natural features.

So the map-makers put the global positioning data into a computer and laid it over digitized aerial maps to check for obvious errors, such as a trail running in a straight line through a pond.

The corrected trail data was then laid over computerized contour maps, along with text and other features such as cabins and property lines.

The map, 36 by 40 inches, is available as a flat sheet of paper for $4, or in a waterproof material and folded for $10. They're at the Forest Service information center in Centennial Hall, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

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