View Full Version : Question on future Mid State Trail maps and guides

10-07-2015, 09:20
Concerning PA's Mid State Trail www.hike-mst.org (http://www.hike-mst.org/)

Maps: Should there continue to be printed waterproof maps covering large sections of the trail, or is it time to convert the printed maps to downloadable geospatial PDF's (like these that North Country Trail is going to www.mlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2015/09/howard_meyerson_geospatial_pdf.html (http://www.mlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2015/09/howard_meyerson_geospatial_pdf.html) and like the ones already posted for MST sections 17 through 20 www.hike-mst.org/index.php/the-trail/section-updates (http://www.hike-mst.org/index.php/the-trail/section-updates) ) that can be updated continuously?

Guides: Should the little green guidebook continue to be printed, or is that information better to download section by section, updated continuously?

The Solemates
10-07-2015, 09:46
in my opinion pdf downloads are better. you can download your specific section, and it gives the MST the ability to replace the file easily with new updates. for most of my trips if i can i generally download maps online, shrink them down to 8 1/2 x 11, print them out, and laminate them myself. I have maps from all over the country like this (and 95% of them by the way are free). I have no need for GPS data though and would prefer not to have the extraneous information wasting space on a map.

as far as guidebooks, i do the same thing. i generally shrink them to 4-6 pages per 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and print them out. i dont laminate these...i use them as firestarter after I've hiked that section.

if you have the ability to simply put the pdfs on the MST website that is best. no one wants to have to download special software to download the maps. well at least i dont....i just won't do it.

10-07-2015, 16:05
The geospatial PDF's can be printed out as dumb PDF's, or show up on a smartphone screen as smart ones with a dot showing where you are.

01-13-2016, 12:24
In other fora people seem to want to continue to have printed waterproof maps.

So, should the existing scale of 1:50,000 be kept (roughly half size of a topo map), made smaller for more trail per map (like the inch to the mile 1:63,360 of Finger Lakes Trail maps), blown up to closer to the 1:24,000 topo map scale (more map sheets and more folds per map), or what?

01-13-2016, 22:50
I find the 1:50000 scale to be a good compromise. Go to much smaller, and the maps are less useful as to determine just where the trail is (think the PATC Tuscarora maps). And, going larger, while I certainly wouldn't mind 1:25k or so maps (and my quick-and-easy ones are around that scale), it doesn't seem to be ideal for a long linear trail, especially in regions with few side trails.

There's also the issue of ideal contour spacing. I know I've mentioned to you before I think the MST map contours are too far apart, especially the Rothrock expansion. Assuming linear proportionality from a 7.5 minute quad with 20 ft contours, a 1:50k metric contour interval should be around 12.5 meters. Or perhaps 10 or 15 m. Actually, 12.5 m even with the decimal may be fine, every 4th contour can be an index one (instead of every 5th) for each 50 m.

Oh, and the paper needs to be less brittle. All my MST maps are coming apart at the folds.

01-14-2016, 08:20
Once electronic devices are designed to always work when their batteries die, after immersion in water, and after being dropped on rocks, then the need for paper maps will be lessened. For now, these devices remain subject to failure and a paper map has been all that separates some folks from problems and a successful trek. In my view, having both lets the individual decide what level of risk they want to assume when making the decision.

01-14-2016, 21:39
Oh, and the paper needs to be less brittle. All my MST maps are coming apart at the folds.

You mean the color maps? That's the first report of degradation of the Hop Syn that I've received in the eight years since we started on those. I was starting to think that MST maps might be the last sign of civilization after the apocalypse. ;)

Feedback on the old Thwaites era B&W maps on 20' contour base was that the contours jumbled up the map too much. 50 m contour interval was a reaction to that, and the reaction in turn was that was an overreaction. ;) The response by the time the third of the new series maps (301-306) was to go with 25 m. Many of the PATC-ish maps are 100' contour interval, of course as you indicate they tend on the "other trails" to be a bit coarser than 1:50,000, and on the A.T. folks bitch about going through more than one pricey map per day.

01-23-2017, 12:21
Will the maps for the northern sections (17-20) be printed in color on waterproof paper like the other three maps at some point?

01-24-2017, 23:03
Will the maps for the northern sections (17-20) be printed in color on waterproof paper like the other three maps at some point?

Possibly, after the route stabilizes, which could be a perennially vain hope.

By the way, the new Map 307-311 (US 22 to PA 192) will likely come in a downloadable as well as a printed version, by spring 2017.

01-25-2017, 12:13
Here's my take based on having used the printed maps and guides for my Mid-State thru hike several years ago and maps I downloaded from the Fnger Lakes Trail Conference for the sections where the North Country Trail uses FLT tread for my hikelast fall on the NY and PA sections of the NCT. I prefer the way the FLTC does their downloadable maps. (Note: FLTC also offers printed maps on waterproof paper which are quite a bit more expensive). There is a fee for the download and one can select individual maps or the entire set. I like that the equivalent of the MST guidebook info is printed on the back of the corresponding map page, and that the maps show some hiking services.

Printed Maps Pros: waterproof, sometimes larger areas of trail and it's surroundings, can be stocked at outfitters to help promote the trail

Printed Maps Cons: cost, must have relatively large print run to keep cost reasonable vs. need to manage inventory. Updates can't be made immediately.

Online Maps Pros: Lower price for download, no inventory for MSTA to manage (no investment in inventory, don't need to coordinate with print shop), hiker can download immediately, download is more likely to be current, can load into smart phone as a backup if printed map suffers damage (I attach them to an email to my self and keep them in a separate folder at google or yahoo), can (usually) be used with software on smartphone.

Online Map Cons: Cost of printing supplies and time to print out, home prints not usually waterproof, print service prints can be waterproof. Must be protected from moisture (rain or sweat) in pack and pocket.

My personal preference. I like to download and print. I especially like the way FLTC handles it.